Monday, 25 April 2011


Easter Sunday was a perfect day for me, from start to finish. A frosty sunrise, to a sunny, increasingly warm day with a hot afternoon before the evening clouded over again.  By then, I welcomed the drop in temperature. Nevertheless, at the hottest time of the day, how pleasant it was to have sat under trees by a loch watching butterfllies - such delicate creatures to have come through the last harsh winter. Easter seems to be the time, when all around us we can see Nature's hand in the creation of new life beginning again.

Yesterday, invited to visit an art exhibition in a church, at the venue there were bookmarks with the picture of a butterfly settled on some blossom and the statement "Easter, time to begin again" - an interesting selection of words open to many interpretations. Later, looking at butterfly photographs I had just taken, I thought again about the bookmark phrase in connection with words a best friend had read to me on Good Friday. Whilst on the phone, she accidently knocked items to the floor and stopping to pick these up, she read to me some words from where a book's page had opened - beginning with the sentence about time, that "There is a right time for everything: A time to be born and a time to die." And we had talked about this, myself remembering my mum saying "people fear death and yet, some die without ever having lived and that should be feared much more." How precious was our time, our share of life.

TIME: There is a right time for everything;

There is a right time for everything;
A time to be born, a time to die

A time to plant;
A time to harvest;
A time to kill;
A time to heal;
A time to destroy;
A time to rebuild;
A time to cry;
A time to laugh;
A time to grieve;
A time to dance;
A time for scattering stones;
A time for gathering stones;
A time to hug;
A time not to hug;
A time to find;
A time to lose;

Easter - Time to begin again?

A time for keeping;
A time for throwing away;
A time to tear;
A time to repair;
A time to be quiet;
A time to speak up;
A time for loving;
A time for waiting;
A time for war;
A time for peace.

All around nature is beginning again, flowers coming in to bloom, young animals being born, birds nesting on eggs soon to hatch. To do something 'again', some can focus on an action being repeated because it wasn't done correctly the first time around. Yet surely, it is more liberating to focus on the positive - that with wisdom from past experiences, a person can take a new opportunity to "begin again". So, here is to new beginnings at the start of a New Year, at Easter or indeed, whenever they are taken - "Life is to be lived!"  

The verse above about 'Time' is from the Bible, Ecclesiastes Chptr 3. And I think, whether a person is religious or not, The Bible can make interesting, thought provoking reading. In this chapter, the passage moves on to question "What does a person really get from hard work" and states "Everything is appropriate in its own time." We can not see from the beginning to the end of eternity but we can conclude "there is nothing better than to be happy and to enjoy oneself as long as possible - to eat, drink and enjoy the fruits of our labour."

With a smile, I could translate the above as knowing when it's the right time to go with the flow and when instead, it's the time to paddle as hard as you can! Yes, sometimes, it is best to drift down stream with the current but, at other times, you need to face the immediate situation - find the strength required to paddle your own boat against the flow, safely steering your own course (as best as you can) through whatever storm in life it is that you face.

Yet, after the storm, embracing the need to pull your boat safely up on to the shore, taking time out for a walk to relax and reflect. By a loch, on a beach or looking down from a hill at the beauty below. Anywhere scenic is always a great place to think and focus the thoughts so that calm and refreshed we are ready to "begin again".

Easter Sunday, my day perfect from start to finish. Some clouds at sunrise causing the sun to illuminate the sky with an orangey hue. Then the continuing sunshine warming up the earth so that dormont butterflies took to the air. Then in the evening, after a long, hot day, the temperature finally dropped and by then, high above East Lothian on the Duns Road, I watched the misty clouds roll over the Firth of Forth. Time, is as always moving on. Easter Sunday drawing to a close before the start of the post holiday working week and my Monday morning - a time to begin again.

Friday, 22 April 2011


Easter, a time of the year which means all sorts of different things to people. From a period of religious celebration, to an opportunity to spend a weekend walking around superstore sales buying items for the house. For me, Easter is a time for getting outdoors and seeing new life beginning with flowers in bloom and spring lambs in the fields.

Constant visits to shops result in buying much more than we need and it seems to me - less is more!

When we are starting out in life, we can work so hard to gain skills and qualifications to get that better paid "more successful job" - but it's important to stop and consider, "what is success?". If we aim for a goal, what do we do when we achieve it? Do we continue to push on, set new goals or do we actually enjoy that we've accomplished what we set out to?

I have owned a couple of houses in my life, all bought because of the principle "location, location, location". Indeed, I always smile when I recall the absolute shock of my boss (back then) who, when visiting my house for the first time, blurted out in a horrified voice "This is it? What sort of statement does this house make, it's tiny?" I remember laughing and saying I didn't buy my house to make a statement but to live in!  Near enough to my work in Edinburgh but with beautiful views of the sea and with easy access to the city bypass and surrounding coutryside  (my boss and I were good friends but we were both people with very different values and priorities).

Nevertheless with my second house, again bought for the view, it was much larger. And when it came time to leave, and half packed boxes and chaos seemed all around me, I thought to myself  "time to downsize! But, where to begin?" Sitting on my bed to think that through, I moved my fiddle and camera (all placed there with my laptop for safety) and that was my 'Eureka moment' - did I really need much more than my fiddle, camera and laptop, to live and enjoy life?

Out for a drive yesterday evening a few miles from Edinburgh, no where particularly special, I was watching the sun sinking behind a hill and a 'field of coos.' Such simple things are worth appreciating. At this time of the year, all around us new life is beginning. Time is, as always, moving on but in ALL ways it is so very precious. Each day consisting of 24 hours in which a series of opportunities will pass by us each, chances that we can take (Carpe Diem) to make a day remarkable or, chances lost, so that the day of potential ends with the sun setting on time that has only served to come and go. Yet, our lives are built up from the chapters in which these individual days have been gathered - lives shaped by choices that have been made.

Watching wee lambs running around in the fields, stopping their antics to run up to their mums and watch me (as if saying - "Mum, why's that woman watching us?"). And the young calves too, like this curious little critter last night, fascinated, wanting to come over and investigate me and my camera but instead giving a nervous "Moo" to his mum. Such simple but such lovely things, just to take the time out to stand and watch nature on a still evening in the countryside, far away from the hustle, bustle and noises of the town.

Yes, the Easter weekend may be an opportunity to "go to the sales" or get that "DIY project in the house completed" but I hope that there is also enough time put aside just to "enjoy life". Time passes by us all so quickly and if we had a goal to live in a certain house, to buy certain nice things or own that special car we always wanted - when we have attained these goals, surely then, is it not time to take the foot of the accelerator through life, to slow down and enjoy the view. If you have read to here in my Blog, thank you - and now maybe, it's time to get outdoors? Taking more time to fully enjoy life. Is this Easter a time for the shops and buying more clutter for your house? (Possessions you probably don't all need.) Or, is less actually more? More time to really live and enjoy the beauty that is all around us, to find time to stop and smell the flowers!

Happy Easter and may you enjoy your dance through life!

Oh yes and, I nearly forgot about chocolate and bunnies!

May the magic Easter Bunny come in from the fields to visit you this Sunday morning with lots of Chocolate Easter eggs!

One of my favourite memories of Easter is from Feakle, Co. Clare in Ireland. Staying there, with this lovely family - I was  woken early on Easter Sunday morning by a great commotion! The door to the garden had been thrown open and the young children were tearing all round the garden at great speed looking for chocolate eggs that the Easter Bunny had hidden. (I never saw this 'tradition' celebrated in Scotland but it was wonderful to see such great excitement!).

Just think - If you run round your garden enough you can work off all the calories of the Chocolate Easter eggs you'll eat. And, think of 
the entertainment value you'll give your neighbours!!!  ;-D

Monday, 18 April 2011


You can think through many thoughts whilst watching a sunset. Here are some of mine from last night as I enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen over the Firth of Forth. Waves gently breaking on the shore, the welcome sound of Eider ducks calling to each other, a blackbird singing from a tree - a magical end to a beautiful day.

I love how the colours of the sky can change so quickly. For me, no one picture can ever truly capture a sunset. The whole sky, an ever changing work of art, the canvas on which Mother Nature works her magic. Illuminated by natural light, an ever constant creation. Subtle changes as we watch, as our eye scans the horizon to observe one part and then, when we cast our gaze back, the colours where we looked have changed. A unique work of art to end our day. Colours moving, changing, deepening and then - gone. Only the sparkle of stars in a clear night's sky, the potential promise of a sunrise to alight a fresh picture painted by nature's pallet of glowing colours.

Tonight, as the sun slipped far below the horizon, the deeping colours stilled me to sit a while and soak in the tranquility. And, as I watched, the sparkle of Fidra Lighthouse shone out across the waters. Fidra, the  island whose shape is said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson in his most famous book "Treasure Island." The lighthouse was actually built in 1885 by members of Stevenson's family - David and Thomas Stevenson. Indeed, around the coast of Scotland there are more than 200 lighthouses, the majority of these lighthouses built by the civil engineering genuises which were the Stevesons but - not Robert Louis Stevenson, he carved his own path.

Born in 1850, Robert was expected to follow in his family's footsteps but after three years as a civil engineer apprentice he changed to legal studies. Yet still, it was writing which was his passion.  Developing a debilitating respiratory illness, early in life he became determined to become a professional writer. Much of his work was written from his sick bed and finally, poor health encouraged him to travel away from the harsh Scottish climate. At 26 he met, fell in love with and went on to marry an American art student.  Finally, they settled on the island of Upolu in Samoan where locals called him "Tusitala" (teller of tales). He continued to write but in 1890, at 44, Stevenson died of a stroke - but what he had made of his short life!

A quote by him is posted on my kitchen wall: "Never underate the duty of being happy". Despite his illness, RLS became famous in his own lifetime and respect for his work has continued to grow through time. His first steps away from his family's path, his desire to be a writer was not encouraged. Yet, from history, he is probably now more famous than the civil enginners of his family who mariners owe so much gratitude too. For me, the story of RLS serves to indicate that everyone is different and that the world is all the better for that. Great civil engineers are much required but so too are the creative talents of those who make the world a better place through work which can be shared and enjoyed.

Sat on the hill above North Berwick, looking to Fidra and up along the Forth, I reflected on Robert Louis Stevenson's life. For a time he had tried to become a civil engineer but that was not for him... How fortunate for us all that he broke away from the path of conformity and followed his heart. Too often the cautious voice inside can be silenced by the "wise words of those who know better" (?). I think we are more likely to have a better understanding of our heart's desire than the view of an outsider looking in BUT it can be difficult to find the confidence required to go it alone. Just over five years ago "some friend" said to me I was wasting my time with photography, I would never be any good and it was boring to watch me try - what crushing words these were at that time. Yet, I was a fool to take them to heart. A more appropriate response would have been to have said "so what?" If we really love something then the happiness that comes from that creative pursuit should not be ignored. Thankfully, it was encouragement from my mum who got me to look again at photography as a hobby. I absolutely adore it so thank goodness she did! and tonight, standing up from the bench on my scenic view point, I decided to take this  photo to share with others here.

So, what were my Celtic Reflections tonight? What conclusions did I reach? As I looked out at the dark waters of the Firth of Forth I thought about the fishermen and sailors who need the light that shines from Fidra lighthouse. I thought too of Robert Louis Stevenson, the courage he found to carve out his own path, his literary work which still shines today. As he said, never under rate the duty to be happy and I would add to that - if you have a creative hobby which lights your soul then, don't neglect that either. At the end of the day, when you look back on life you can pretty much see that it doesn't matter what others think or simply - let there be light. 

Listen to your own heart and "Let Your Light Shine"

:-D SMILE and pass it on!

Monday, 11 April 2011


"Sing a Song for Davy Steele" - to mark the tenth anniversary of Davy's passing, his wife Patsy, family and friends are asking people to sing one of his many songs - to commemorate him and celebrate his amazing musical gift and the rich legacy he has left behind for us all.

 Sing a song of Davy’s on 11-4-11, in any way, in any place

 At your gig, at the pub, at home or at work, in the car or even in the bath - just sing!

 Afterwards, please visit the Davy Steele Website and let them know on the guestbook what you did. Words are also available from this site or from Patsy at

Farewell to the Haven was chosen as the first track of the People and Songs of the Sea compilation album. I originally met Davy through the Edinburgh folk scene, a local man from Prestonpans, East Lothian. In Farewell to the Haven, Davy's song so perfectly captures the heartfelt sadness of those who must face the economic decision to leave the fishing for better paid work - a song written some years ago but even more relevant today as the rising cost of fuel often makes it more costly to take a boat out to sea than (even with harbours dues to be paid) than to leave it tied up. In these current, most difficult of times, many boats around Scotland's coast are being sold off.

Farewell to the Haven - is my blog and a Youtube video that I am currently working on in tribute to Davy Steele. When I have finished my blog and video clip, the final version will be posted here.

RIP Davy, your music and songs live on with us all, 11.04.11

The Girl Jean at Port Seton Harbour


I’m leavin the fishin the life I have known
The battles wi nature that nobody’s won
The fish stocks are dwindling and the shoals hard tae find
I’m leaving the fishing I’ve made up my mind

Fareweel tae the Haven my hert it is sad
The drifters I’m leaving tae work on the land

My faither worked drifters and my grandfaither tae
My brother’s a skipper on the Elena Mae
I worked at the fishin just as soon as I could
So leaving’s no easy the sea’s in my blood

I’ll miss the wee boats though my thoughts are there yet
Wi the lads on the Jeannie haulin the net
We worked hard together and we laughed hard as well
Cursin the weather and riding the swell

I’ll work in the wire mill it’s a good job they say
I’ll start and I’ll finish the same time every day
The money is constant and my wife she seems pleased
Ah but I’ll miss the fishin and I’ll miss the sea

A sunset picture from 2006 - at the time I thought the vans 'spoilt' my photo.
They were waiting for fishing boats to come in, only a leisure boat was left.
Just as leisure boats have replaced the fishing boats of Fisherrow.
Other local harbours have seen fishing boat numbers decline.
Now in 2011 I look back, glad the vans were in my photo.


Yesterday, in support of peace, it has been estimated that 10,000 people marched in Omagh, Northern Ireland. The march was organised following the murder on 2.04.2011 of a newly serving police officer, 33 year old Ronan Kerr. Many of those marching for peace carried pictures of Ronan with the slogan "NOT IN MY NAME" and I, like Ireland's majority, hope that the Irish peace process is not destroyed by recent re-emerging troubles.

The march for peace was organised, in just a few days, by 29 year Gareth McElduff - a person with a Facebook account who read of Ronan's murder and felt he had to 'do something". When one person makes a stand, others can come forward and show their support for the cause. I dearly love Ireland, it's culture, it's land and of course the people. I desperatly hope that the small minority trying to wreck Ireland's peace process achieve nothing. I remember Ireland's troubled times and no one should ever aim to return to these days.

Recently, the economy of the once strong "Celtic Tiger" has suffered greatly. The Irish are experiencing one of the nation's worst recessions and, as the economy struggles to make some ground, it needs all the support it can get eg: from tourism bringing money in to Ireland. Foreign visitors do not want to go to an area where there is trouble and those living there - they want to be able to get on with their lives without fear of violence. (Girl 5 stood beside car bomb, waving to fun runners). Whatever a person's religion, whatever their point of view - differences can be resolved through dialogue. As with those who marched for peace and in respect of Ronan Kerr, I hope that everyone (in Ireland and abroad) will support the peace process.