Reflections and observations on life in general.


This is my bed.

Photo of a simple wooden bed.
I have been lucky enough to be able to sleep in it peacefully,
confident that I will be safe and warm enough,
free from fear of sudden assault,
by strangers with no reason to hurt me or,
somebody I thought I could trust.
Free, too, from fear of a night visit from
police or army, come to take me or my family away,
for “questioning”, or worse.
So far, at least;
let’s not get too complacent and believe that
“it couldn’t happen here”.
The trouble is, it does,
especially if you have lost your opportunities
to earn enough to keep paying the rent, or mortgage, or
if your mind just wouldn’t stay on track enough to get by
and handle all the stuff like bills and job and relationships, or
if you had to put whatever you could grab,
in the dark,
and the shock of approaching fire and explosions,
and the children hysterical and wetting themselves,
to run to the last taxi,
which only waited for you because the driver
is married to your cousin,
and leave everything,
and get to the border, the children still unwashed and exhausted,
no papers, no ID,
you dropped it as you picked up the youngest,
and finally,
after a story you still cannot tell without shaking uncontrollably,
by a series of very small miracles,
arriving in the country where they say
“it couldn’t happen here”,
as they go to safe beds, while
you look for a bed, for room at the inn,
and find that the first thing somebody says to you,
it must be a customary welcome here,
“why don’t you FUCK OFF back where you came from”.

This is my bed,

Photo of a simple wooden bed.
I am #SharingMySanctuary
in a very small way.
I want to see the people whose decisions can make it happen
understand this,
not just know about it,
understand this,
understand how great a sanctuary is
a safe place to sleep,
and make it happen for those who need sanctuary too,
which, really, is EVERY one of us.

I hope that you can be free from fear tonight, and have a safe, sound, refreshing sleep.

(Among others, these people are doing something about this.)



The Sainsbury’s Rainproof Hat

After a sunny morning, rain clouds have boiled up over Stirling and are releasing their excess water in grey, warm, curtains, accompanied by thundery grumbling like an old man relieving himself after a long, uncomfortable journey.

I have extended my shopping visit to the store to enjoy a relaxing coffee in the café, with outstanding views over the parked cars and trolleys and the misty forms of the Ochil hills. Good timing, as it turns out.

During the downpour, a man with a limp and a stick approaches the store entrance, a Sainsbury’s carrier bag turned unselfconsciously into an effective hat. I miss the photo opportunity but hold the image in my mind as I sketch quickly.

My recent café neighbours, a family with three lively children, wait under the eaves while one of the adults returns from the distant car with jackets. Mum gives hers immediately to the small boy, now a baggy animated raincoat with feet. Dad puts his on, pauses, looks at Mum, removes his jacket and, with less dexterity, drapes it over the smaller girl. The tallest girl is already wrapped up in an uncle’s coat. Ready for the elements, they venture forth, out of sight.

My coffee is soaking into my body and the rain is soaking into the ground. A woman with hair as bright red as a traffic light runs for her car from now nonexistent rain.

Time for home, to unload the bags of potting compost and pots I have bought so that I can grow things again after a gap of several years, lacking outdoor space.

And then, I think, a glass of the sparkling wine that the new landlord kindly left as a welcome gift.

May you also be blessed with ingenuity and kindness.

Now, where’s my rainproof hat?

Rolling, stepping..

Sitting in a Tesco cafe after a hearty, cheap, veggie breakfast.

Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street ” plays over the somewhat intrusive store musack system, a favourite and evocative song for me.

It’s my last day of tenancy in the flat I’ve occupied since moving up to Scotland to make a new start in a new job, in August last year. It’s been a good home and fresh beginning that I feel sustainably refreshed by.

To quote from a poem by Maya Angelou:

The horizon leans forward,

Offering you space

To place

New steps of change.

Step by step, I’m experiencing this.

At the same time, while feeling content with my current situation and happy with the new place I’ve moved to, today I feel like the rolling stone in the song, about to complete another step towards that horizon.

The causes of raspberries


I’m due to move at the end of the week, so I’ve been dismantling shelving and re-packing the few things I unpacked on arrival up here in Scotland last year. This time it’s a shorter move, about 6 or 7 miles closer to work, which will take about 40min off my cycle commute (I’m not a fast cyclist), and to a more self contained cottage, a welcome change from living in flats for the last few years.

I took some relaxing time out at the end of the afternoon, to walk through the birdsong-resonant Callendar Woods and down to the lochan by the house. It has been one of those overcast, warm, still days that mute the light and makes for a soporific , timeless feeling in the air. Leaves have sprung from nearly all the trees, blossoms are out, insects buzz around and a lot of birds have already begun to lay their eggs. I found empty blackbird eggshells and one duck egg that a crow or similar had evidently robbed and partly eaten, by the paths.

Most people had gone home but there were still some families out as well as a couple of small groups of youths, sitting and muttering quietly to each other. A few younger children were out and running around, one adult, one of their parents, close by. The children were shouting at each other, only when I drew a bit closer did I hear more clearly them telling each other, in a playful tone of voice, to fuck off, repeatedly… the parent seemed unconcerned …. but then yesterday by the shopping mall in town I heard several parents swearing profusely at and in front of their young children…. the seeds of another abusive and angry generation are sown. Causes and effects, I see some of the fruits of this in school.

Other causes and conditions are coming together to create new phenomena too, the flower buds are forming on the raspberry plants that grow profusely in the woods. I could buy raspberries now in the supermarkets if I wanted but, for several reasons, I resist this to wait for the local, wild, harvest. The wild ones taste better too, perhaps they arise from healthier causes and conditions, less stressed and pressurised, able to take their own time to become ready.

raspberry plants with buds

Once, here…

I’ve recently been on a cycling tour in North-West Scotland, a beautiful, remote, inspiring area that is also, geologically, a former part of the North American continental plate.  I’m still writing the account of that journey up, the daily demands of work and life back at home delaying the process a bit.  In the meantime, this…

I stayed a night and part of a day near the village of Achiltibuie.  On the shore, beside abandoned and crumbling boats, I saw a row of rusted  anchors and chain cable.  I thought of the older community, based on fishing and crofting, that is changing, now.  Some words came to mind:

achiltibuie anchors

Once, here,

were fishermen,

who weighed and dropped us,

singing, cursing,

laughing, praying,

whose boats

we held fast,

in sand

or rocky ground.

But fish and people moved,

new voices, accents,

sound here now

and we alone remain

to hold


their memory,



were fishermen.

0457 – dawn chorus

Early alarm,

Cycling today.

One minute,

Only birdsong,

Only birdsong,

Lifting night,

Revealing light.






Realistic Question

Cristian Mihai poses a useful question:

Something to consider as I get up to make breakfast and go to work this morning.

Thanks, Cristian, best wishes.

Squirrel manners

As if I haven’t had a rough enough night, fighting a cold, my breakfast is interrupted by incoherent angry swearing from outside the kitchen window. Two floors up, this is unusual.

Curious, I investigate. The perpetrator is hanging upside-down on the wall outside, looking at something, perhaps a cat, in the bushes below. My visiting squirrel is making angry noises at whatever it is when he or she sees me and climbs easily onto the windowsill.

In between grumbling at the whatever-it-is, she looks at me, scratches her stomach, nibbles at the window frame. Then, crouching ready to spring, she leaps to the nearest twigs and is away, leaving a small poop behind.

I guess I’ll take that as a compliment then… ?

Back to bed, to let my immune system continue its battles.

Pale gold

There is pale gold here, this afternoon, as I sit with fresh tea and biscuits in my flat; early returned from work with a head full of mind-muddling cold.

To the north, the roofscapes of Falkirk and, beyond, the Ochil Hills are modelled in soft yellow-white sunlight and blue-grey shadows. They appear briefly to advance before retreating, slowly, as the intensity of the light is muted by other clouds.

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From the east windows are the edges of woodland, tree trunks glowing soft gold and browns amongst green-black masses of leaves. Birds are singing, sounding glad of the respite in the recent freeze.

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Sunlight is beginning to shine directly into the flat again after its winter holiday, showing me I must clean the windows again. On Saturday morning it illuminated my breakfast, today it brings an unaccustomed warmth to the clutter of the other bedroom.

Despite the itching, irritating, swollen and congested sensations in my head, I feel a sense of wellbeing ease the heaviness of my eyelids. A sense that spring is just beginning, just beginning, to stir in its sleep, enough to make the buds swell on the branches outside the kitchen window where, a month ago during ice and snow, I left some nuts for a fearless visiting squirrel who leapt across to the thin windowsill from a thin branch and watched me making toast.

Aspirin, sugar and caffeine are doing their work, Time for an early nap, then some food, then more sleep to allow my body’s defence forces deal with the unwelcome intruders.

To you reading this, I wish you health and happiness.

Time for me

to rest and,



of gold.

The Joy of Living

I have to go to work, or I’d write a post inspired by this. Instead, sharing the following. ..

When Timber Makes One Still

The Joy of Living

“The beauty and charm of the wilderness are his for the asking, for the edges of wilderness lie close beside the beaten roads of present travel…through the northern forests, the home of the giant moose, the forests of fragrant and murmuring life in summer, the iron-bound and melancholy of winter. The joy of living is his who has the heart to demand it”

-Theodore Roosevelt, The Joy of Living

_DSC0085 ©Tom Gable

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_DSC0082 ©Tom Gable

_DSC0073 ©Tom Gable

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