Tag Archives: summer

Water Safety⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

As we approach the summer holidays, Scottish Water would like to make all parents and their children aware of the water safety code.
Water safety is a priority but especially during the summer months when children spend more time outdoors.

Scottish water would encourage teachers to take the time to access the Go Safe Scotland resource and deliver a water safety lesson before the summer break.

For more information go to Go Safe Scotland – Water Safety.

Summer reading⤴

from @ blethers

What have I been reading recently? Nice of you to ask - I have been reading more than I might, because it's been the kind of weather that allows you to read outside, and I'm an outdoorsy sort who can't bear to sit in if the sun's shining or even if it's not and ... and ... Enough. Right now I've started on Lucretia Grindle's The Lost Daughter  and I'm enjoying it hugely, in the way you  do when you've read several of an author's books and settle comfortably into the environment - in this case Florence - and the characters (Italian cops) you've met before. I continue to be slightly irritated by the writer's tick of consigning adjectival clauses to a separate sentence more than once (once is fine, but it's too distinctive a trait to use more often), but she writes a good tale and the setting is terrific.

I'll not go on about that, however, because I'm just settling in - though I may return for a final thought. Before embarking on the Grindle I was reading the deeply unsettling The Disappeared, by Kim Echlin. Set in Canada and Cambodia, this is a story of the Killing Fields, so I'm now considerably more clued up on Pol Pot and the horrors of that era than I was in the 70s, when I was too preoccupied with bringing up children. As I shall be visiting Cambodia and Vietnam next year, it seemed a good way for a fiction fiend to pick up some history, and a pretty ghastly history it is. Echlin writes in an elegiac way that incorporates Cambodian words into her dialogue and reflects the music that brings the lovers of her story together, but under the poetry of her language is an undercurrent of tension that meant I sometimes had to stop reading (at bedtime, usually) before I was ready to.

I read another thought-provoking book in Frankie and Stankie, by Barbara Trapido. This is a delightfully-narrated account of growing up in the South Africa that existed while I was a child, the South Africa of growing apartheid seen through the eyes of the child of white liberals who nevertheless mingled with the rest of white society - though they took a dim view of the Afrikaaners, whom they saw as boorish country clods. The child-like clarity of the prose means that events happen without necessarily being interpreted; with our hindsight we are able to see how things gathered their own ghastly momentum and changed a world even as its inhabitants watched. I'm glad to have read it.

And then there was the appropriately seasonal Instructions for a Heatwave, by Maggie O'Farrell. This is the story of a family, beautifully and lovingly told, with fascinating flashbacks gradually explaining what is happening and making it possible for the family to continue. I especially enjoyed the seemingly effortless mastery of the writer, the firm grasp of tense, the fine strokes of characterisation. Set in the heatwave of July 1976 - a heatwave in London which was not, I can tell you with all the authority of a diarist, a heatwave in Dunoon - the writer keeps the heat there, oppressively present without being over-described, so that you are constantly aware of the difficulties of coping rationally with any crisis. I saved this one up for the appropriate season, and it went down a treat.

And now, chums, I'm away back to Florence. I'm not after all going to say any more till I'm finished. The sun is shining in the garden and I want to read ...

Decisions, Decisions⤴


Our summer holiday is finally nearly upon us.  We are heading off on a two week cruise next weekend round the Western Mediterranean on P&O’s Ventura.  It has been a long hard year and we are really looking forward to getting away.

The challenge today is to decide what camera equipment I am going to take with me.  What will I actually use and what will just take up space?

Here is the list that I think I am going with.  What have I missed?

  • Nikon D300S body
  • Nikon 18-105mm DX lens
  • Nikon 50mm f1.8 prime lens
  • Tamron 70-300mm AF lens
  • Sigma 120-400mm DG lens
  • Lensbaby Composer with double glass and plastic optics
  • Range of Cokin filters
  • spare memory cards
  • lightweight monopod
  • Macbook Air with Photoshop Elements
  • 500G Passport hard drive

The decisions might be different if we were flying but weight restrictions are not a problem.

Of minnows, flounders and me⤴

from @ blethers

I've decided I'm a simple soul, really. The picture above - and that's my footprint on the right - represents a perfect end to a perfect week and we've hardly spent a penny on all this perfection. I climbed a hill (Beinn Donich) on Monday, walked the Crinan Canal on Wednesday, and finished off with what must be the seal-setter on the proper Scottish holiday experience: I swam in the sea and it was warm. There were shoals of minnows, tiny flounders, and the odd crab. Oh, and some of these wee clear jellyfish with the purple bits that we used to throw at each other. It's an odd sensation to hit one when you're swimming. I wished my grandchildren could have been there, because they would have loved it, but I had fun doing my own thing.

When I say we didn't spend much, I'm glossing over two sizeable drives, one to Lochgilphead and one to the beach which is the gem of Argyll's Hidden Shore (yes, it's a tourist description) - but we began and ended each day in our own house and bought no tickets and only modest food. But this afternoon I was ecstatic, to get a swim at the time of year when the childhood holidays demanded and with Arran, my favourite place in the world, on the horizon. Better still, we had to walk a mile to reach the beach - just as I did in my car-less childhood.

Is it what you do in childhood that in the end demands you return to these experiences? When I was a small child we spent 8 weeks in Arran every summer, in the same cottage, doing the same things. On days such as today, we went to the beach and went into the sea. Other days we climbed hills or walked the glens. We came home in the evening to boiled eggs, floury muffins with strawberry jam - this last memory is so powerful that today I found myself thinking of a boiled egg despite having had one for lunch. We would never eat what I've just cooked and eaten (baked salmon of some splendour, strawberries ditto, a nice crisp white wine), though I suspect I'd miss the step up in culinary standards these days.

But I rabbit on, and I'm tired and sun-sated. I've showered away the salt (it doesn't half prickle under your shirt, especially on a bit of sunburn) and shaken the sand out of my sandals. I feel as if I might still be ten years old. I believe the weather is going to be different tomorrow, and I shall be off to Rothesay for work, not pleasure. But I don't care.

Tonight is good, and I know it. Hurrah.

Saved for a rainy day⤴


As the rain pours down here in Inverness I am sitting flicking through old holiday snaps feeling helplessly nostalgic… so once again I find myself blogging not about education but about my life in general. I wrote this after an amazing day in Puerto de Mogán, Gran Canaria, earlier this summer… it’s well worth a visit.  

As the boat swayed on the ocean waves I caught my first glimpse of our destination just beyond the staggering cliffs. With speed not matched to the elegance of movement, the Salmon IV rounded the bend to expose the beautifully quaint Puerto de Mogán harbour. Stepping cautiously back onto solid ground my gracias was nearly forgotten as I took in my surroundings; the whitewashed village beyond the tourist-trapped harbour and the backdrop of vast mountainous terrain made my jaw drop in wonder.

Stopping only momentarily to refuel in a small, ivy clad cafe we were soon eagerly taking in all this strange little town had to offer. It was like walking through a Venetian-Greece; narrow winding streets lined by startling white buildings, rimmed with blues, reds and yellows, protected by ornate iron gates and decorated with elaborate flowing plants of the vividest greens and pinks, while the sea ebbed and flowed through tunnelled routes made passable by stone arched bridges. 

The sun beat down and burned our necks as we watched the multi-coloured fish swim amongst the millionaire yachts. I could not help but be amazed by the stark diversity this corner of paradise held; the Greek style homes to the Venetian canals, the yachts of Monaco to the Arizona Mountains, the Spanish tapas restaurant to the Irish bar. I never wanted to be separated from the gem we had found hidden in the rocks.

Arriving back in Puerto Rico, in its finest Times-Square-wannabe-but-more-like-Blackpool fashion, was as great a contrast as there could have been. We alighted the air-conditioned bus to be hit by the stifling, dry heat that comes from a lack of fresh, sea air and, in keeping with the culture of our surroundings, headed for a Happy Meal.