An Open Letter to DD – When Life Gets Tough, “What Would Buffy Do?”

My Dearest Darling Daughter (DD for short)

I know you don’t often drop by this place and I thank you for giving me the freedom to write freely without worrying about being viewed by people from the real world, but here is a short post just for you. Other regulars may drop by but they already know all about you, as all of your shenanigans, as well as those of your dad and granny, pop up within these pages from time to time.

We are now heading into our 10th week of lockdown here in Scotland, which means it’s nearly 11 weeks since you were “let go” from your workplace. What an awful euphemism – You and your colleagues were not flimsy pieces of rope loosely tethered to your desks, but were sparky, go-getting young people with so much to offer. Anyway, because of the pandemic it happened, and on behalf of my generation I apologise for how your generation have been treated over the last decade or so. 

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One of my favourite pictures of DD

We all know how tough it is for you to buy somewhere to live, as we bought everything up as “investment property”. We all know how tough it is for you to enter the job market, as we cling on to the quality jobs and now (have to) work ’til we drop. We gave you computers & phones which let you access social media 24/7, often damaging your mental health. Some of us call you “snowflakes” which is an insult of the highest order and could only come from those who haven’t seen how hard your generation have had to work to navigate the school system and beyond. And now… , the world has seen fit to give you a pandemic to deal with.

This is primarily a health crisis we are living through, and yes, it is our older people and those with underlying health conditions who have borne the brunt of it so far, however I would argue that it’s the 18 to 24-year-olds like yourself whose lives have been turned upside down by it most, and who will bear the brunt in the longer term. I feel desperately sorry for all of you who will miss sitting those life-changing exams; who will finish your degrees virtually; who will miss out on all those end of term revelries; who work in the arts & hospitality; whose new apprenticeships/jobs are now on hold, and; whose plans for next year are now in jeopardy. Many of you might be in a serious relationship yet are having to lockdown in different households. Your social life, which is of immense importance to your age group, is reduced to a Zoom quiz or a hour’s walk with your parents.     

Anyway, got to find some positives and I know you will do your absolute best to adapt to a post-pandemic world. It was obvious before all this that something had to change in terms of how we live, and this might just be the catalyst to make it happen. Over the last few months we have seen less pollution, more innovative ways of working and communities taking care of each other – All bodes well for the future, as long as we can get through this tricky next phase.

I know you’re starting to struggle a bit now and I would like nothing more than to give you a great big hug, but as you’re at the other end of the country, sadly not possible for some time yet. Your dad and I miss you desperately and are your biggest supporters – Whatever the future holds, you will be fabulous.

Mum xxx


Postscript:

I have written about DD often around here, so if anyone wants to drop by the comments boxes with a message of support I think it would give her a big lift. Cross fingers we can all reunite soon. Back in the day, we as a family once spent a whole calendar year watching all 144 episodes of Joss Whedon’s award-winning cult drama, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. When times get tough, the question still is, “What would Buffy do?” – She was one powerful young lady.

As we watched all the episodes, we must have also heard the theme music by Nerf Herder at least 144 times. I had never thought to look into this before, but Nerf Herder are apparently an American rock band from Santa Barbara, California. They describe themselves as a “geek rock” band, and are known for simplistic, modern, punk-style songs and pop-culture-referencing lyrics. Perfect for the Buffy Theme it seems, and as I often say around here, every day’s a school day.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Theme by Nerf Herder:

Runrig, “Hearthammer” and A Bit Of Shameless Marketing

Well, another week on and another Saturday morning blogging session. As I sit down to type I am as yet undecided on today’s subject matter/featured song, so it’s going to be interesting. I occasionally take to “tipsy blogging” (just the one glass of red, so not too tipsy) when I’m lost for inspiration, but not really the done thing before elevenses so a mug of tea it’ll have to be instead.

But of course I’m not lost for inspiration today, it’s just that I had a bit of a rant last week so feel I’m going to have to reel it in a bit this week. I had been a bit upset by the apparent jollity around my neck of the woods during these difficult days, and was finding the lack of empathy for those going through tough times hard to take. I shouldn’t have been surprised however as we are most definitely not all in the same boat during these early days of the crisis. Socio-economic factors have created a massive divide in terms of the lockdown experience and for our retired neighbours with generous pensions, other than not being able to go on holiday at the moment, their lives haven’t changed much at all. My offers of help have not as yet been needed. The economic/social crisis now developing from the health crisis is going to impact the young most, and also those who cannot work from home. In time, a new fairer balance will be found, but how many years will that take? I hope I’m still around to see it happen.

View across the Beauly Firth to Ben Wyvis

I included this picture in last week’s post so shouldn’t really share it again but it’s a bobby dazzler isn’t it and taken from a place just 15 minutes walk from the holiday hideaway which has now been put into mothballs. Regulars around here will remember my foray into the world of tourism last year and how it didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped. Alyson’s Highland Adventures (AHA) soon became Highland Adventures (HA) as it became apparent people generally just want a lockbox, good Wi-Fi and for me to bugger off!

This week was spent cancelling the remainder of my bookings for the calendar year as we have no idea when we will be able to safely operate such businesses again. Being positive however, I think by next year people will start to have holidays again, and the Staycation will be a popular choice. Some shameless self-promotion here but my Orcadian blogging buddy Graeme from Imperfect and Tense came to stay with his family just before it all started to go horribly wrong, and shared some great pictures over at his place. I was nervous, as he lives in such a beautiful spot himself, but over the course of the week he found all sorts of interesting outdoors-y places that were even new to me. The bonus of course of having a self-contained holiday house on the edge of town, is that your guests have the duel benefits of access to great scenery but also an M&S Foodhall for holiday treats. (Don’t want to sound scary, but has to be said, also useful to have a large acute NHS hospital nearby too.)

Not sure as yet when I shall reopen for business but as I said last year, if any regular visitors want to give me a whirl when the time is right, feel free to get in touch via the Contact Me link at the top of the page. I’m pretty sure Graeme would be more than happy to provide a reference.

As the focus of this post seems to have been on local scenery, it would seem sensible to include a very local piece of music too. There are loads of small venues around here where bands perform in the summer months but of course not going to be easy for them to operate for some time, which is sad. As for the local festivals and gatherings which pepper the annual calendar, again, not going to happen this year. Thank goodness for aforementioned good Wi-Fi as at least many musicians have been able to take to online platforms, but must be said, not the same at all and of course won’t pay the bills.

A band who were able to stream their 2018 Farewell Concert the other week on social media was Runrig. They have featured around here before when I wrote about their version of the traditional song Loch Lomond. Despite looking a bit dated now, in the absence of coming up with a better alternative I’m going to revisit that video clip again (really gets lively after 3:00), as it’s a great reminder of how only weeks ago it would not have seemed unusual to attend such mass gatherings. When will we see their like again? Not for some time I suspect.

Loch Lomond was on the B-side of an EP released in 1991 and of course I bought it, along with the rest of the population of the Highlands. The main song on the EP was Hearthammer which made it into the UK Singles Chart and even got them a slot on TOTP. Looking at the lyrics properly now for the first time, they most definitely come from the memories of people who were youngsters in the 1960s, and I have found out about a famous Argentinian footballer called Di Stefano who was previously unknown to me. Sounds as if he was a remarkable player.

Hearthammer by Runrig:

Runrig’s lead singer Donnie Munro was Mr WIAA’s art teacher at school in the 1970s but by the late 1980s he was very much a full-time musician. When he’d told the class he was involved with a band, and that they played a kind of Gaelic/Celtic rock, the class were highly sceptical (this was the decade of glam rock, punk and disco after all) but he certainly proved them all wrong. In the period 1987-1997 they were signed to Chrysalis and released five very successful studio albums.

So, “What’s It All About?” – Wasn’t sure where this one would go but it seems I’ve ended up shamelessly plugging my temporarily mothballed holiday house. I would hope that by next year we will start to see visitors return to the Highlands of Scotland but with widespread foreign travel probably a thing of the past, and with Airlines going out of business, they are more likely to be of the home-grown variety rather than the myriad of nationalities I welcomed last year.  I’m sure local businesses will adapt and the smaller intimate (but not too intimate) venues will probably be the first to showcase live music again, but as we all keep saying, strange times indeed.

Until next time….

Hearthammer Lyrics
(Song by Calum Macdonald/Rory Macdonald)

With the eyes of a child
The wonder of it all
I used to search the stars at night
And I felt so safe and small
Sweet sounds from a Mersey town
And my nursery god
And I wanted to ride with Yuri Gagarin
As he circled all around my world

Hearthammer
And I lose control
Hearthammer

Lying under the covers
With the radio on
Settle down with Caroline
As she sailed all summer long
Sweetheart of the rodeo
Mining hearts of gold
I think it was somewhere pre stand-up time
Somewhere post Rubber Soul

Hearthammer
And I lose control
Hearthammer

There was the first caress
There were the Labour years
There was the man who walked the moon
Something you never really believed
The Di Stefano twists
The Charlton goals
Now I’m still here with the eyes of a child
The wonder never grows old

Hearthammer
And I lose control
Hearthammer

Lockdown Headwear, Trainspotting and “Lust For Life”

A lovely post last week from C over at Sun Dried Sparrows was inspired both by the lyrics to David Bowie’s song Queen Bitch, and by the fact we’re all soon going to have to wear bippity-boppity hats to cover up our uncut and uncoiffed hair.

She’s so swishy in her satin and tat
In her frock coat and bippity-boppity hat

Well, it’s taken a global pandemic but I’m becoming a lot less shy around here. The Swede over at Unthought of, though, somehow has already shared his “hat picture” in reply, so here is mine. It’s from a long time ago, when I still looked young and cute, taken on our honeymoon in Edinburgh in 1992. No far-flung trips to foreign climes for us, as money was tight, but I have such fond memories of that week and a simple three hour drive down the A9 was all that was needed to get there. My hat was a favourite from the time and seemed to stay on my disproportionately big head just right.

Who else is willing to share a picture of themselves in their favourite headwear? I nominate C.

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My Honeymoon Hat

Regulars around here might remember that a few years ago, whilst having yet another trip to Edinburgh, Mr WIAA and myself made a short film recreating scenes from the film Trainspotting (written about here).

trainspotting

My last post was quite a serious one so in order to lighten the mood I’m happy to humiliate myself again by sharing the practice film we made on day one, and the final cut from day two. Twenty five years on from the picture above and everything looked pretty much the same. Right now, Edinburgh will be a ghost town.

(Just in case anyone missed out on Danny Boyle’s black comedy about a group of heroin addicts living in an economically depressed area of Edinburgh, I have added the official trailer from 1996 to the bottom of this page as a postscript. My little films will thus make more sense.)

Day 1 – Carrying out the Recce and the Outtakes

Day 2 – The Final Masterpiece (soundtrack by David Bowie and Iggy Pop)

There were plans afoot for a mini-blogger’s summit to take place in Edinburgh towards the end of the summer. Will we really still be in lockdown mode then? I for one sincerely hope not.

Until next time, look out those bippity-boppity hats and get snapping.

Lust for Life Lyrics
(Song by Iggy Pop/David Bowie)

Here comes Johnny Yen again
With the liquor and drugs
And a flesh machine
He’s gonna do another strip tease

Hey man, where’d you get that lotion?
I’ve been hurting since I bought the gimmick
About something called love
Yeah, something called love
Well, that’s like hypnotising chickens

Well, I’m just a modern guy
Of course, I’ve had it in the ear before
‘Cause of a lust for life
‘Cause of a lust for life

I’m worth a million in prizes
With my torture film
Drive a G.T.O.
Wear a uniform
All on government loan

I’m worth a million in prizes
Yeah, I’m through with sleeping on the sidewalk
No more beating my brains
No more beating my brains
With the liquor and drugs
With the liquor and drugs

Well, I’m just a modern guy
Of course, I’ve had it in my ear before
‘Cause, of a lust for life (lust for life)
‘Cause of a lust for life (lust for life, oooo)
I’ve got a lust for life (oooh)
Got a lust for life (oooh)
Oh, a lust for life (oooh)
Oh, a lust for life (oooh)
A lust for life (oooh)
I got a lust for life (oooh)
Got a lust for life

Postscript:

Trainspotting – The official trailer.

Ten Sharp, “You” and 2019, What Are You Going to Deliver?

Happy New Year to everyone who visits here. I am conscious of the fact many of you visit without ever leaving a comment – Don’t be shy about joining in with the discussion that often arises. It might sometimes seem as if we have a whole private members thing going on, but trust me, it’s not like that at all. I for one just like writing about the music that’s formed the soundtrack to my life, and when you do that, the stories just start to pour out.

What to write about today though? I did wonder at the end of 2018 whether I could carry on as I have done for yet another year. My posts do tend to be quite wordy and often require a lot of research. The received wisdom however is just to do what feels right. I don’t think I’ll ever get back to writing as many posts as I did in this blog’s first year, as all I did in 2016 was go to work and blog – Amazing Mr WIAA didn’t find himself a new wife really. Fewer posts from me in 2017, as that was the year of big changes at my workplace, which resulted in me throwing in the towel. Would I have done that if I hadn’t become so besotted by blogging? Not sure. As it turns out, my mum’s deteriorating health in 2018 would have probably necessitated my leaving anyway, so just hastened my departure.

2019.jpgSo, here we are entering 2019, and as yet we have no idea what the hot topics will be this year in the blogging world. Three years ago, we were just days away from hearing of the death of David Bowie and for the following twelve months, the tributes just kept on flowing for other iconic artists. It was a brutal year in terms of loss.

It has been a relief, that very few bloggers around here have mentioned the “B” word over the last year. We are all sick and tired of the political shenanigans that dominate the news channels, and fortunately we had a welcome respite from it over the festive period. I have a feeling it’s about to ramp up to a whole new level however, so watch this space, as I do feel a one-off rant coming on!

In the meantime here is a heart-warming picture. No Hogmanay parties for us this year as most of the neighbours were either away or had grandchildren to stay. Changed days indeed, but time for the younger generation to take over perhaps, so DD and her boyfriend decided to host their very own shindig to bring in the New Year. In this digital age she has gone old skool, and now takes most of her pictures with a Polaroid Instax. In the years to come there will be tangible evidence of what they got up to back in the day, as opposed to having thousands of images lost in some virtual cloud.

49203393_10211962280643559_8668616275443843072_n And here is where I made a wonderful observation. Looking as this array of pics, I realised most of the local friends had managed to come along, and these local friends included people she has known since school-days along with more recent friends made through college and work. Amongst them, there was a brother and sister from Poland, the brother’s Lithuanian fiancée and two forestry students from The Netherlands. It may well be getting ugly out there, but I know for my daughter and her friends, they will remain staunchly European whatever. Many in her group have lived in the Highlands since junior school, and despite the challenge of studying in what would essentially have been a foreign language, they have already achieved great things both academically and professionally. A massive asset to our community. 

My featured song is therefore going to be this one – My earworm of the week. Mr WIAA has taken to watching YouTube music clips whilst having his morning coffee, and sometimes falls down that rabbit hole, ending up far from where he started. One day last week he ended up listening to this song – You by Ten Sharp. It was from the time when we were still just “dating”, so it conjured up memories of a more carefree time. Back then, like DD, we had a big circle of local friends, but none of them were from anywhere other than Scotland – Changed days indeed. 

You by Ten Sharp:

But the main reason for choosing You as my featured song, is because it’s by a Dutch band, something I hadn’t realised back in 1991 when the song became a big hit for them peaking at No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart. The two Ten Sharp band members are Marcel Kapteijn (vocals) and Niels Hermes (keyboards). The song itself was produced by Michiel Hoogenboezem (almost worth writing this post just to find an excuse to mention that great name).

My American Odyssey in Song series seems to have stalled, so perhaps it’s now time to champion some of the music made by our European neighbours over the years. DD’s Dutch friends were able to arrange a welcoming committee for her ahead of her trip to Amsterdam last year. Meant she spent a few days with a lovely couple of girls who have now become firm friends. Let’s hope none of that camaraderie will be jeopardised by what is to happen in the first few months of 2019.

Until next time….

You Lyrics
(Song by Ton Groen/Niels Hermes)

It’s all right with me
as long as you
are by my side

Talk or just say nothing
I don’t mind your looks never lie
I was always on the run
finding out, what I was looking for
And I was always insecure
just until I found

Words often don’t come easy
I never learned
to show you the inside of me
Oh no my baby

You were always patient
dragging out what I try to hide

I was always on the run
finding out what I was looking for
and I was always insecure
until I found

You, you were always on my mind
you, you’re the one I’ve been living for
you, you’re my everlasting fire
you’re my always shining star

The night’s always a good friend
a glass of wine, and the lights are low
you lying beside me, me full of love and…
and filled with hope…

You, you were always on my mind
you, you’re the one I’ve been living for
you, you’re my everlasting fire
you, ooh
you’re my always shining star
always on my mind
you, you’re the one I’ve been living for
you, you’re my everlasting fire
ooh, ooh
you’re my always shining star
you’re my always…
you’re my always shining star

New Beginnings Part 2: Web Diaries, Take That and “Everything Changes”

“I don’t like it…, I love it!”

Those of us who watch mainstream telly in the UK, will recognise those words, as they frequently come from the mouth of Mr Simon Cowell, who seems to have singularly ruined this time of year for music lovers. His big-budget karaoke shows highjack the seasonal chart, so nobody makes Christmas records any more. This blog may feature songs from the 1970s more than any other decade, but if I have to endure another festive season listening to Slade and Wizard, I will be very grumpy indeed. (Nothing against Noddy and Roy of course, but even they must be getting embarrassed at the abundance of riches accumulated since making their respective festive hits forty-five years ago.)

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Christmas No. 1 Singles from over the decades

But as ever I’ve got side-tracked. Back to that hackneyed phrase:

“I don’t like it…, I love it!”

To my absolute delight, they were also the words that came from the mouth of my little mum this week, when I asked her if she liked her new care home. The relief was palpable, as so many old folk really resist going to live in such places. Of course it does help that it looks like a 5 Star Hotel; it does help that she is still able-bodied enough to enjoy all the activities, and finally; it helps immeasurably that the financial side of things is being taken care of by myself. As far as she is concerned, her state pension pays for all of it, and I intend to move heaven and earth to keep her there. Now that my time is being freed up from doing the actual caring (which was not my forte and can be done so much better by those professionally trained for such work), I can soon get back to being what they call “economically active”. Just a few things that need sorted out first…

You won’t probably have noticed, but I’ve not posted anything new around here for over a fortnight. Been a bit busy you see, but in a really good way. My mum is happy, so it’s now all steam ahead with selling her retirement flat, and we’ve watched enough of those “property porn” shows to know what can be done to dress the rooms for maximum effect. Still a bit to do, but it looks fantastic already. She was always really fastidious about keeping her home immaculate, so not too onerous at all. And, plenty of nice pieces to take to the care home once the deal is done.

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Phil and Kirsty doing their thing

But that’s not all. As far as my college course goes, we have now reached the end of the first semester. The last assignment had to be “uploaded” (bit more high-tech than first time around) on Monday, so now just waiting see how I did. Bit of a downside is that we had to prove we’d been keeping a journal, of sorts, for the last three months. Of course followers to this place know that this blog is in effect my web diary/journal, so although we all like retaining our anonymity around here, I had to bite the bullet and include a link. I have deliberately held off writing anything new for the last fortnight, as I was acutely aware that if my tutor opened the link, she would see the latest post – The pressure was on to make it a good one. I now realise however, she may not open the link for a while, so I can’t really hold off any longer. Will try and up the rate of output though, and with any luck, if she does drop by, it will be one of my better posts. Something I did mention in my assignment though, was that after a lifetime of working with Excel spreadsheets, it’s been great turning to writing in later life. Anyone who has been with me for the journey will hopefully agree I’ve got better at it over the years, the sentences becoming a little bit less clunky, and the posts a bit more entertaining.

Finally, the big one. As of last Saturday, I think we acquired a new business! We live right in the heart of the Scottish Highlands which now seems to be ranked No. 5 in the Lonely Planet Guide’s Top Regions to Visit in 2019, so anything related to tourism should be a winner. Won’t say too much about that one until it’s a done deal, but all very exciting, and with any luck it will help out with the care home fees.

So, not a lot of music around here yet today, but just kind of getting back into the swing of things again after a short absence. There is no doubt we have a lot of change going on around here at the moment, but it needed to happen, and just shows that retirement need never really be an option, as always new challenges out there to take on.

Lots of songs with the word ‘Change’ in the title, but I have included David Bowie’s Changes around here before (sadly still very relevant), so time for something different. I won’t inflict Wind of Change by the Scorpions on you, so you’re safe (although click on the link if you want a quick recap), but I will inflict this one, Everything Changes by Take That. I’ve always been a fan of Take That, right from the start, and remember well the outpouring of grief in 1996 when they announced they were splitting up. I’d just had DD and was a stay-at-home mum experiencing daytime telly for the first time in years – Poor Richard and Judy had to set up a helpline!

They are now a Man Band rather than a Boy Band and have lost a couple of members along the way, but this song just reminds me how great they were at the beginning – All that energy, and Robbie got starring role in this offering, which was a bit unusual, as Gary was usually in charge of the reins when it came to the lead singing role.

200px-Logo_Take_That

I’m feeling quite upbeat today, and have the designer for a well-known luxury brand sitting next to me as I type, as Mr WIAA is working with them on a new range. She has also become a friend, so a couple of busy, but fun days are likely to follow. Everything changes from time to time, and for us, everything has changed as we end 2018 and get ready to enter 2019. I will soon have completed a full three years of blogging, but I’m not done yet, and although it looks as if I’m going to be kept really busy in the new year, I’m going to keep this place going with more Moon Posts, American Odyssey posts and items from what I call Alyson’s Archive.

The lyrics to today’s song are entirely inappropriate for my situation, but the title is, and their high energy video clip is weirdly fitting for how I’m feeling today. It looks great, is shot in a sepia tone, and shows the band in a jazz café, performing the song with various patrons joining in. The song was the fifth single from the band’s second studio album, “Everything Changes” and was inevitably written by Gary Barlow amongst others. It was Take That’s fourth consecutive single to go straight in at No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart, where it remained for two weeks in April 1994.

Everything Changes by Take That:

I’ve ended up writing way too much here, but just goes to show what happens if you have a fortnight off. If my tutor does drop by this post, it’s not exactly representative of what I do around here, but it does show that my blog also doubles as my web diary, or journal, as well as being the place where I revisit the “tracks of my years”.

Back it 1996 everything changed for Take That, and life has continued to change for them over the intervening 22 years, as they later reformed, and morphed from being a five-piece Boy Band to a Man Band of varying number. In 2018 everything changed for us, and after a bit of an up-and-down year, everyone seems to be ending it in a good place. My mum loves her care home, I have my course and a new business to get up and running, Mr WIAA is busy making beautiful things that will appear in shop windows, and DD seems to have decanted to her boyfriend’s luxury apartment overlooking the river (no sad little student flat for her). I know it won’t last, as life just doesn’t work out that way, but in the meantime I’m going to enjoy the calm. No more whinging. New beginnings.

Until next time….

Everything Changes Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow/Michael Ward/Eliot Kennedy/Cary Baylis)

We’ve said goodbye, the taxi cab is waiting
Now don’t you cry, just one more kiss
Before I have to go
Hey girl I know the situation changed
And so much is new but something in my life
Remains the same cos

Everything changes but you
We’re a thousand miles apart
But you know I love you
Everything changes but you
You know everything single day
I’ll be thinking about you

The rumours true, you know that there’ve been others
What can I do, I tell you baby they don’t mean a thing
Now girl don’t go and throw our love away
I’ll be home soon back in your arms to hear you say that

Everything changes but you
We’re a thousand miles apart
But you know I love you
Everything changes but you
You know everything single day
I’ll be thinking about you

Everything changes but you
We’re a thousand miles apart
But I still love you
Everything changes but you
I’ll spend everything single day
Thinking about you

Though everything changes around us
(Baby don’t U cry)
We will be the same as before more

Everything changes but you
We’re a thousand miles apart
And I still miss you baby
Everything changes but you
You know everything single day
I’ll be thinking about you

Walking As Therapy, R.E.M. and “Nightswimming”

Today, when I sat down to write my first post since turning over a new leaf (in terms of blogging), I discover WordPress has totally changed how we create content around here and I suspect it’s going to take a little while to get to grips with it all. Just as I was getting comfortable they go and change it, by adding a new piece of software called Gutenberg. Anyway, a great chance to test it out by putting together a bit of a picture post, which is what I had planned for today anyway.

One of the benefits of having been so stressed over the last few weeks is that I am probably fitter than I’ve been in years. We all know that exercise is a great stress buster, and rather than donning the lycra and heading to the gym (one of the most boring pastimes ever invented), I’ve taken to pounding the paths and pavements of my “hood”, and have now clocked up a serious amount of miles. Nothing easier when you find yourself with a spare half hour, than to grab a hat, a pair of gloves, a waterproof jacket and some comfortable shoes, then head out in whatever direction takes your fancy. A brolly can also come in handy and a pair of sunglasses to keep the wrinkles at bay, but not obligatory.

Some pictures below – If you look closely you will see a daytime moon.

There have been some beautiful sunny days around here of late and it’s been a privilege to take in the blue skies and autumn hues that surround us at this time of year. Another bonus is that I seem to have inspired a few friends to join me, so although I’m happy to go it alone, I often have company, which has been great. Putting one foot in front of the other – It’s not rocket science is it, but something that seems to be lost to so many of us nowadays and I used to be one of the worst culprits. We sit in front of computers all day, drive to work and to the shops, binge watch telly on our sofas and then go to bed, only to get up and do it all over again the next day.

Hat, gloves, jacket, shoes…

Hat, gloves, jacket, shoes…

Leave the Fitbits and all the gadgetry at home and just get out there and enjoy whatever there is to see. I don’t want to come across all smug and self-righteous here, but I think I’ve now seen the light, and if I don’t fit a couple of walks into a day, something feels all wrong. Talking of seeing the light, some of the best times to be out during autumn is in the evening, especially if you live on a hill as I do. It gets dark at around 5pm, after which you see all the lights across town; the lights in the offices where people are still working; and those that illuminate our highways and byways.

Still hard at work – Scottish Natural Heritage HQ
Down by the canal locks at night-time

Looking at the picture above, I am reminded of the song Nightswimming by the American alternative rock band R.E.M. It was released in 1993 as the fifth single from their album “Automatic for the People”. I don’t think the waters of the Caledonian Canal would be much fun to swim in at this time of year, but of course the waters of Athens, Georgia, where the band hail from, would have made night-time skinny dipping perfectly possible. This is where the inspiration for this song came from, I think, but those R.E.M. boys have a habit of making things up as they go along, so it could be about something totally different!

This is the second time something from that album has appeared on these pages in the last few months. Last time (link here) I included their 1992 single Man On The Moon as one of the featured songs for my “Moon Series”. It wasn’t really until “Automatic for the People” that I started to properly appreciate R.E.M., and other than the songs already mentioned, it also spawned the singles Everybody Hurts, Drive, The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight and Find The River. Not quite a record at 6 singles in total, but very impressive nonetheless.

Nightswimming by R.E.M.:

So, “What’s It All About?”- I don’t know if any of my blogging buddies are having similar problems here on WordPress, but the times they are a-changin’ it seems and I think we’re all going to have to man up, and learn how to adapt to this new software. Typical, just as I crack how to use all the bells and whistles, the system changes (that was the story of my working life too). I have a feeling this post is going to resemble a dog’s dinner, but bear with me, I’ll get better.

(Oh and yes, I know that if I had a dog I would be out there pounding the pavement every day anyway, but I don’t, so it’s just never been part of my daily routine. The gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs that have been part of our lives over the years were not what you would have called labour intensive – My mistake I now see!)

Until next time….

Nightswimming Lyrics
(Song by William Berry/Peter Buck/Mike Mills/Michael Stipe)

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the dashboard taken years ago,
turned around backwards so the windshield shows.
Every street light reveals a picture in reverse
Still it’s so much clearer
I forgot my shirt at the water’s edge
The moon is low tonight

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago
The fear of getting caught
The recklessness in water
They cannot see me naked
These things they go away
Replaced by every day

Nightswimming,
remembering that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit around the fairest sun?
The bright tide forever drawn
Could not describe nightswimming

You, I thought I knew you
You, I cannot judge
You, I thought you knew me
This one laughing quietly
Underneath my breath
Nightswimming

The photograph reflects
Every street light a reminder
Nightswimming
Deserves a quiet night
Deserves a quiet night

The Autumnal Equinox, Neil Young and “Harvest Moon”

Since discovering that all full moons have a name, given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar, I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

Well, there could really only be one featured song for this month – Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. Having said that, the Harvest Moon can occur in either September or October, as it’s the name given to the full moon that lands closest to the autumnal equinox. This year we reached the equinox, that pivot point in the year after which we can expect more hours of darkness than light in our days, on Sunday the 23rd Sept. Had it not landed that way, it would have been called the Corn Moon, but no great songs as far as I am aware about corn (unless you know differently), so I’m mighty glad it’s worked out this way.

220px-Harvest_Moon_singleFor the Native Americans, this was the month when corn was supposed to be harvested. Also, due to a highly scientific quirk relating to orbital distances and other complex laws of physics, at the peak of the harvest farmers can work late into the night, as this moon rises at nearly the same time every evening giving them all that extra light. Fortunately I have no harvesting to be done, because for the second month in a row, there seems to be total cloud cover around the time of the full moon. I am still hoping for a miracle tomorrow night but not counting my chickens. (Wonder if the Native Americans also did that by the light of this brilliant Harvest Moon.)

But back to Neil’s wonderful song. I do have a couple of Neil Young anecdotes in my back pocket, but I don’t think this is the time or place to share them. Instead I just want to listen to the beautiful sound of his voice, those soft brush strokes, and the steel guitars.

Harvest Moon by Neil Young:

Something that surprised me when doing a modicum of research for this post was that the album “Harvest Moon” was released in 1992. I always associate Neil Young with a much earlier time, and although I recognised this song, I had never thought of it as being attached to the 1990s. That said, the year 1992 was an incredibly busy one for me, as in a five month period I got engaged, sold my flat, bought a house, organised a wedding and got myself betrothed…, so I probably wasn’t keeping up with any new album releases.

Listening to the song Harvest Moon, it is however perfect for a couple like us who have now been married for nearly 26 years. It was written as a tribute to Neil’s wife Pegi, and seems to celebrate longevity in relationships. Had we not lived in the North of Scotland, I think I might have suggested to Mr WIAA that we go dancin’ where the music’s playin’ tonight, but sadly it’s really cold out there, so a mug of cocoa and a boxset it’ll have to be instead. Easy to take each other forgranted once you’ve been together a long, long… time, but listening to this song reminds me that…, well, we really shouldn’t. Enough said.

…. there’s a full moon risin’
Let’s go dancin’ in the light
We know where the music’s playin’
Let’s go out and feel the night

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon

harvest-moon-plane2

The moon seems to be a big deal to Neil Young as it turns up in 28 of his songs. He uses it to guide him and is apparently more likely to take on a project if it coincides with a full moon. In a 2005 interview he explained: “Before there was organized religion, there was the moon. The Indians knew about the moon. Pagans followed the moon. I’ve followed it for as long as I can remember, and that’s just my religion. I’m not a practicing anything, I don’t have a book that I have to read. It can be dangerous working in a full moon atmosphere, because if there are things that are going to go wrong, they can really go wrong. But that’s great, especially for rock ‘n’ roll.”

I must admit, this moon series has been my favourite so far, and I would agree with a lot of what Neil says there. I really hope we do get to see the full moon on Tuesday night as I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms, having missed out on last month’s lunar eclipse entirely and this month I seem to be dogged by cloud cover. If we do, I’m sure my friend with the all singing, all dancing camera will capture it perfectly. Cross fingers he does.

Until next time….

Harvest Moon Lyrics
(Song by Neil Young)

Come a little bit closer
Hear what I have to say
Just like children sleepin’
We could dream this night away.

But there’s a full moon risin’
Let’s go dancin’ in the light
We know where the music’s playin’
Let’s go out and feel the night.

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

When we were strangers
I watched you from afar
When we were lovers
I loved you with all my heart.

But now it’s gettin’ late
And the moon is climbin’ high
I want to celebrate
See it shinin’ in your eye.

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon.