Wednesday, 31 August 2016


A Pastel In Progress.

Iona From the Jetty.

Yesterday I made a start on this pastel of Iona. I lived on the island for a year so painted this almost completely from memory. The scene has changed little from the time I was there. The abbey tower did not have a sloped roof during my time and I can remember standing on the roof of the tower and seeing for miles. The picture with colour looks like it is at an angle but that was the photograph not the painting it will look straighter when completed.

I have fond memories of my time on the island working on the building and being a general handyman. For doing this I was given free board and more important a quiet place to study  and try to put right what I had failed to do at school. 

Today I do not visit Iona probably not even in my painting. My day for meeting my friends has been changed to today so today I travel to Dunfermline. 

All this talk of travel here and there reminds me of n amusing event and a lesson learned.

A young man was on the bus  travelling from Dunfermline to Dundee, part of the same journey I will be making today.

A man of Arabic appearance got off the bus and the young man noticed that he had left his bag behind.  He grabbed the bag and ran after him, caught up with him just outside the bus station and handed him back his bag.

The man was extremely grateful and reached into his bag which appeared to contain large bundles of banknotes. 

He offered the young man  a reward, but he refused.

The Arabic man  looked round, made sure nobody was looking and whispered to the young man, "I can never repay your kindness, Sir, but I will try to leave you with a word of advice. Stay away from Dunfermline Steak Houses."

The young man was terrified. "Is there going to be an attack?" he whispered.

"No." the man whispered back "The food is shit and the dessert selection extremely limited." 

Never jump to judgement because of a persons appearance. So I will not be visiting any steak houses today.

I hope you have a wonderful day and any news you do receive is nothing but good news. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Clever Monk.

Yesterday I went collecting berries. I collected two different kinds in my forays. Firstly I filled a tub with blaeberries, wild blueberries. Much smaller in size it takes more patience to gather them because it seems to takes ages to fill the tub.

I then moved on and went to some bramble bushes. Now these two clubs of berries are somewhat special because over the winter I kept them pruned so that the berries might be bigger and sweeter.  There were indeed some lovely berries rips for picking. 

As I was picking a man with a dog passed and picked a few. "Delicious," he said, "gods' marvellous gift." I was so tempted to make the quip that God had need a bit of a hand with these ones. Or to ask why God had made them so difficult to gather. I am sure he would have had an answer so I just nodded and said enjoy. 

I love picking berries for many reasons. It is food for free. There is the pleasure of being out in the open. When gathering mushrooms the little bit of work to make sure you are collecting the easy edible versions.  Lastly there is the memories of youth when we went berry picking all of us from the same street. Those were fun days. 

I was thinking of this as I cycled home. I remembered the story of the sage. 

Once there was a monk who was an expert on the Diamond Sutra, and as books were very valuable in his day, he carried the only copy in his part of the world on his back. 

He was widely sought after for his readings and insight into the Diamond Sutra, and very successful at propounding its profundities to not only monks and masters but to the lay people as well. 

Thus the people of that region came to know of the Diamond Sutra. 

One day as the monk was travelling on a mountain road, he came upon an old woman selling tea and cakes.

The hungry monk would have loved to refresh himself, but alas, he had no money. He told the old woman, "I have upon my back a treasure beyond knowing -- the Diamond Sutra. If you will give me some tea and cakes, I will tell you of this great treasure of knowledge."

The old woman already knew something of the Diamond Sutra herself, and proposed her own bargain. She said, "Oh learned monk, if you will answer a simple question, I will give you tea and cakes." To this the monk readily agreed. 

The woman then said, "When you eat these cakes, are you eating with the mind of the past, the mind of the present or the mind of the future?"

No answer occurred to the monk, so he took the pack from his back and got out the text of the Diamond Sutra, hoping he could find the answer. 

As he studied and pondered, the day grew late and the old woman packed up her things to go home for the day.

"You are a foolish monk indeed," said the old woman as she left the hungry monk in his quandary. 

"You eat the tea and cakes with your mouth."

I have a good friend who would have got that answer instantly being very partial to some coffee and cake. 

Have a marvellous day.

Monday, 29 August 2016

It is an age thing.

My friend and I were laughing at each other last night. While sharing some time together and reflecting on the day we both said almost at the same time.

"I am knackered."

Now for those who might not know this saying let me translate. It means simply I have had a hectic day and I am feeling the strain of it.  

We both agreed that raging is not so wonderful. Yesterday I did a fairly long walk adding a few stretches of running into it. On getting home I thought I was in for a fairly easy afternoon. 

But my son had other ideas. He had booked us both on to the golf course and we played some golf. In the past I would have done this without even thinking about it this morning I know I have done it. 

Yesterday I heard on the news that a recent survey had discovered that senior citizens, those over 65, were not doing enough exercise. 

I was giving some thought to that. I found myself wondering why nature had not made us in such a way that we just wanted to stay as fit as possible without having to be persuaded. I discovered it had. 

Here is the bit of the creation story you never hear of. 

In the creation story each day of creation ends with the words, 
And God looked down and saw that it was good.

So hear are the bits you never hear.

In His wisdom God decreed that seniors become forgetful so they would have to search for their glasses, keys and other things thus doing more walking.

And God looked down and saw that it was good
Then God saw there was another need. In His wisdom He made seniors lose coordination so they would drop things requiring them to bend, reach & stretch.
And God looked down and saw that it was good.
Then God considered the function of bladders and decided seniors would have additional calls of nature requiring more trips to the bathroom, thus providing more exercise.
God looked down and saw that it was good.
So if you find as you age that you are getting up and down more, remember it's the way of nature. 
It is all in your best interest even though you mutter under your breath.

Have a good day I have to go and find out where I left my wallet.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

At the bust stop.

Last night I was awaiting a late night bus home. Sitting not in the line of people waiting but back against the wall there was a young man sitting in a wheelchair. He was sitting very quietly just watching people either heading moving on to something beginning late or like me heading home.

It being festival time the streets were busy with people many intent on catching the busy buses home.

The bus appeared round the corner and there was a surge as people pressed forward to make sure they got on. Once all the seats are taken the bus driver no longer allows passengers to board the bus so it is important to be there on time. There are of course always those people who do not believe in waiting their turn. Last night was no exception.

As the young man in the wheelchair began to move forward there was a belly of pushing people. Just as I was about to move forward to help him get onto the bus an old lady with a loud and powerful voice shouted out, " Wait minute you lot this young man was here long before any of you."

At that a young lady helped him on board, before the telly of pushing recommenced.

Sadly all too often the case of the old saying, "Man mind thyself." Sadly that often means mind nobody else. 

There is another true incident that happened on a bus journey. 

A 24 year old boy was travelling in a train with his father,  seeing out from the train’s window he shouted…

“Dad, look the trees are going behind!”

The dad smiled. 

A young couple sitting nearby, looked at the 24 year old’s childish behaviour with pity.

 Suddenly he again exclaimed, “Dad, look the clouds are running with us!”

The young couple couldn’t resist and said to the old man, “Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?”They were wondering why this old man was doing nothing about the boys excited behaviour.

The old man smiled and said, 

“I did and we are just coming from the hospital, my son was blind from birth, he just got his eyes a few weeks ago and this is his first journey on a train since his operation.

Every single person on the planet has a story. 

We should not  judge people before you truly know them. 

The truth just  might surprise you.

have a great day.  The abstract painting is not the bus belly but a cheerful gathering.  

Saturday, 27 August 2016

The Man on The Bus.

I travelled to Edinburgh yesterday a busy bus and after a pleasant evening with my daughter travelled home on an even busier bus. I had a few smiles at the actions of some of the passengers and the little bits of things I overheard.

There was a man got on the bus going to Edinburgh at the same stop as I got on. He was busy chatting on his phone the whole time as he boarded the bus. He was just in front of me still chatting on his phone. I heard him abruptly say to the driver destination. Yes, that was all he had time to say, destination. He sat down in the seat opposite where I was sitting and continued his phone call. 

The bus left the bust station and headed out onto the road. His conversation continued. The bus headed up towards the Forth Road Bridge and then his tome changed completely. I heard him say in a loud voice that he had got on the bus going in the opposite direction from the one he was wanting to take.  He had to cross the bridge and await the first stop the bus would make to get off. He was not a happy person at all. Had he taken time to speak to the driver he would have been told he was on the right bus but going the wrong way. 

It made me think and so I give you this little tester this morning. 

The question I am asking you is simple, "What Am I?"

I am seldom considered, though I do more to influence everything about you than virtually any one thing in your life.  
I often control the time you get up in the morning, the time you go to sleep, what you eat and drink and the very thought that runs through your head.  
I can make you either happy or sad, loving or hateful, cheerful or remorseful, congenial or spiteful and in doing so, control the very capacity that you have for success.

No, you don’t often think of me instead you BLAME the problem I create on the shortcoming of others, or the state of the economy, or your family or a million other reasons.  
Often at times unable to find anyone else to BLAME you look for shortcomings within yourself on which to lay the BLAME.

When my impact on your life fully is considered in your every thought and action, when you are mindful of my awesome power, when you nurture and groom me for positive use in your life, I can become more contagious than the most prolific disease ever witnessed by man.
My influence will spread to every person you come in contact with.

Groomed and nurtured in a positive manner there will be no person or obstacle that can stand in the way of my success or fail to be impacted for the better. 

What Am I?  "I Am Your Attitude."  With the right attitude we can make the journey of life so much easier and so much more enjoyable. 
Have a good day.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Well and the Mule.

I missed my bus yesterday by about two minutes. As I arrived at the bus stance I watched the bus driving out. I had to wait for an hour to catch my next one. I had two choices. I could find a nice seat and sit and read my book, would probably have managed to finish it. Or I could go for a walk. I chose the latter of the two.

As I walked down through the town I bumped into somebody I had not seen for years. He was looking good and it was good to see him and have a chat. He was also able to update me on so many people I had not seen in ages.

In the end what had seemed such a disaster  turned out to be a bit of a blessing . I walked back to the bus stance with a lighter step. It had been great to meet up and share tales. So what had started as a disaster ended up a joy.

An old mule lived on a farm where there was an old disused well. One day without thinking the mule ended up at the bottom of the well slipping on the mud around the top of it. 

The farmer looked down at the old mule and after some thought that neither the well nor the mule were of much value, and not worth the effort to save either. He therefore decided to fill in the well with the mule still down there. He reckoned if he filled it fast enough the mule would not really suffer. 

H called his neighbours together and they carted a large pile of earth to the side of the well. Once they had enough to fill the well they all began to throw the earth down into the pit. 

The old mule was terrified and hysterical. But then as the earth came down he shook it off his back and stepped up on to it. 

He repeated to himself again and again, "Shake it off and stop up, shake it off and step up. 

This way the panic left him and he set to the task. After some time the old mule was able to step over the rim of the well to freedom.

Although terribly tired, he was a winner, he had saved his own life. The farmer looked at him through new eyes and decided that toehold mule deserved to live and that he was not so useless after all.

The mule had decided to turn his adversity into something positive and had not given up.
What seemed to bury him, actually saved him, owing to his confidence and restless effort.
There can always be a positive side to every adversity even missing a bus. 

I hope you have a good day and nothing bad comes your way. 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Just a Little fall

My friend went shopping yesterday. Later when I met up with him to go for a walk he had plasters on both knees and his hand and was complaining about sore ribs. it seems that he had fallen, he says on the pavement. He simply fell and on trying to protect himself from an even worse fall he had put out his arm and in the process battered his ribs. He said that people ran to offer him help to get him back on his feet. He was obviously in pain and I could not help but feel sorry for him. Later when he had removed the plasters he had two sore looking knees. 

He blamed his bifocal glasses. Others have told me the same thing so I am glad that I only have to wear glasses for reading. I do remember the feeling of having falls when you least expect it. Before getting my new ankle I had a few times when the ankle just went out from under me and I ended up with battered elbows and knees. 

This reminded me of a very true story I was once told about two friends. 

Mark was walking home from school one day when he noticed the boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a table tennis bat, and a small tape recorder. 

He knelt down and helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. Since they were going the same way, he helped to carry part of the burden. 

As they walked Mark discovered the boy's name was Bill, that he loved video games, table tennis and history, and that he was having lots of trouble with his other subjects and that he had just broken up with his girlfriend.

They arrived at Bill's home first and Mark was invited in for a Coke.  The also decided  to watch some television. The afternoon passed pleasantly with a few laughs and some shared small talk, then Mark went home. 

They continued to see each other around school, had lunch together once or twice, then both moved on from to school to university. They ended up in the same university where they had brief contacts over the years, meeting on the train coming and going to university. 

Finally the university years neared the end and it was three weeks before graduation. 

Bill asked Mark if they could talk.

Bill reminded him of the day years ago when they had first met. "Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day?" asked Bill. "You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn't want to leave a mess for anyone else. 

I had stored away some of my mother's sleeping pills and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together talking and laughing, I realised that if I had killed myself, I would have missed that time and so many others that might follow. 

So you see, Mark, when you picked up those books that day, you did a lot more. You saved my life. You picked me up also."

It is so often the little acts of kindness that bring about the biggest changes.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Strength in Weakness.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday. I was about to sit on a high stool and probably look a bit stiff getting my bottom up and on to it. A person watching me, said, "That was a real struggle for you." 

Smarting a bit from the thought that she saw me as old and past it I dropped down off the chair and very promptly and quickly jumped back up. I saw her looking. I then went on to explain that on my first attempt my ankle had twisted a bit under me, as this artificial ankle I have can sometimes do. I then went on to tell her that i had in fact been out on a very hard and hilly walk/ run. 

She smiled and made some comment about the limit of her exercise was running to catch a bus. She said she just could not see herself walking up the route I had taken that morning. 

It is so like those people who without ever having tried tell you that they have absolutely no talent for one thing or another. 

Did I feel pleased with myself that I had made my point?  To be honest I did not. There was probably a much better way that conversation could have gone and I might have encouraged her to go out and try a nice walk in the estate. It is after all right where she lives and easily accessible. She just might have enjoyed it and felt as i do so often full of the joys of success. 

There is a lovely and true story.

A 10-year-old boy decided to study judo despite the fact that he had lost his left arm in a devastating car accident.
The boy began lessons with an old Japanese judo master. 
He boy was doing well, so he couldn’t understand why, after three months of training the master had taught him only one move. 
“Sensei,”(Teacher in Japanese) the boy finally said, “Shouldn’t I be learning more moves?” “This is the only move you know, but this is the only move you’ll ever need to know,” the sensei replied.
Not quite understanding, but believing in his teacher, the boy kept training. 
Several months later, the sensei took the boy to his first tournament. Surprising himself, the boy easily won his first two matches. The third match proved to be more difficult, but after some time, his opponent became impatient and charged; the boy deftly used his one move to win the match. Still amazed by his success, the boy was now in the finals.
This time, his opponent was bigger, stronger, and more experienced. For a while, the boy appeared to be overmatched. Concerned that the boy might get hurt, the referee called a time-out. 
He was about to stop the match when the sensei intervened. “No,” the sensei insisted, “Let him continue.” Soon after the match resumed, his opponent made a critical mistake: he dropped his guard. Instantly, the boy used his move to pin him. The boy had won the match and the tournament.
He was the champion. 
On the way home, the boy and sensei reviewed every move in each and every match. Then the boy summoned the courage to ask what was really on his mind.
“Sensei, how did I win the tournament with only one move?”
“You won for two reasons,” the sensei answered. 
“First, you’ve almost mastered one of the most difficult throws in all of judo. And second, the only known defence for that move is for your opponent to grab your left arm.”
The boy’s biggest weakness had become his biggest strength.

Sometimes we feel that we have certain weaknesses and we blame the circumstances or ourselves for it but we never know that our weaknesses can become our strengths one day.
Each of us is special and important, so never think you have any weakness, never think of pride or pain, just live your life to its fullest and extract the best out of it!”
And when given the opportunity to encourage do not use it to prove your own special qualities, rather seek way to enthuse and encourage. 
It only take one hand to slap somebody on the back and a few words to say well done. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

A Boat Race.

The Boat Race.

Well, the Olympics have come to an end and life can get back to some sense of normality. I for one can get back to no longer burning the candle at both ends and get to bed at a reasonable hour. I have always enjoyed watching sport even more since I participated in so many marathons and half marathons. A knowledge of what it actually feels like to be exhausted and yet still have to give more, makes for interesting viewing.

Now we will have the media trying to milk every last drop from what there is left before it fades into the memory banks. Already the directors of sport are putting down the markers for greater funding for the next four years. Sport need to be careful of all this because it can easily end up not with greater success but with a striving for more and more and the vision of the race can be lost. 

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River.

Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. 

A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.  Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing. So American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing. 

To prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganised to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the ' Rowing Team Quality First Programme' , with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and cancelled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was outsourced to India.

I have a feeling that this sounds familiar. It is a simple matter to lose sight of the vision and no corner of life is exempt from the folly of greed. We can get so caught up in the winning that we lose sight of the participation. There can be no winners if there is nobody left in the race to compete with. 

We might never stand on the podium of life but to have given of our best  is the greater measure of success. 

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Learning Curve.

I have to thank those who read my blog and take the time to contact me about what is either said or the painting used. I find the comments of great interest and an encouragement to get up early and write another blog the next day. 

When comments are made about artwork I realise that now and again what my opinion of a painting is and what others see in it is very different. The word fool has come to mind a few times in the past few weeks, usually on days when I have used a painting that I have painted over. 

There are lessons to be learned from this sharing of thoughts and comments and I genuinely thank all those who take the time. 

Those thoughts have, of course, reminded me of tales I have heard and remembered from my past.

As I said the word fool has crossed my mind more than once. 

This reminded me of a little story of a fast thinking minister. In the background lies the anonymous letter. I think every minister friend I know and have know has had their share of anonymous letters. I have never managed to wonder what the writers of these letters hopes to achieve, their credibility drops considerably if the author cannot have the courage to say who they are. Of course some cause hurt, but most were treated with contempt but not as cleverly as this one. 

A minister received a letter in the mail. On opening it he found one sheet of paper with the word, "FOOL," written in large bold font. 

The minister the following Sunday announced to the assembled congregation. "I have received over the years a number of letters expressing opinions about myself and the authors have forgot to sign them. This week I received a different sort of letter. On this occasion the writer signed it but forgot to actually write the letter. 

Sometimes events take a turn and we learn something about ourselves or our work when we least expected it. 

In the Church of Scotland there is in every church a Congregational Board, usually known just as the Board. This group of people are elected to be in charge of the day to day running and maintenance of the fabric of the church.

One Sunday at the end of the worship the minister said that he needed to have an urgent meeting of the Board.

After the service, the group gathered in the church hall, but there was a stranger in their midst. He was a visitor who had never attended the church before.

"My friend," asked the minister, "did you understand that this is a meeting of the Board?"

"Oh, yes," came the reply from the visitor, "and after that sermon, I am as bored as it is possible to get."

I so hope I have not bored you this morning and hope that you have a wonderful day. Or those of you who, as I discovered read this last thing at night have a wonderful restful night.  Either way enjoy.

Remember every day is a school day and from everything if we are open we can learn a little something. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Just a little prod.

I played golf yesterday afternoon. During the course of the round we played we had wind and rain and sunshine almost all the seasons in one afternoon. 

My game started well one over par then I parred the second hole. On the third hold I hit a bad shot and what looked like a marvellous start got worse. My ball landed in an almost unplayable position. Having started so well it would have been simple to give the ball a little push with my toe to make it lie in a much more  favourable position. 

In so many games the temptation to cheat is there and sadly there are those who take the opportunity, as we have see even at the Olympics. What difference would a little push of that golf ball make? A whole world of difference, my score might look better than it deserved to look, and I would be that little bit lesser for having lied. 

As it was I had a bad hole but ended the day feeling good because I parred  a good number of holes and even the rain did not seem so bad. More importantly I had some quality time with my son finished off with dinner in the clubhouse with my wife and daughter-in-law. All in all a good afternoon that might have been spoiled with a little lie.

The story of the examination and honesty.

In the examination instruction the professor had stated that at the end of the examination each student was to sign a form stating that they had received no external assistance.  No bits of paper or notes had been brought into the examination. 

One student, unsure whether he should sign the form stated to the professor he had prayed to god for assistance. 

The professor took the examination paper from the student and studied briefly his answers. He then turned to the student and said, "You can sign it with a clear conscience. God did not assist you with this examination."

A minister was desperately trying to get his congregation to give some serious consideration to their actions. 

At the end of his Sunday service he told them that the next Sunday he was going to be preaching on the topic of telling lies.  He then told them that he would like them to do some preparatory work. He asked them to read chapter seventeen of St Marks gospel. 

The following Sunday before beginning to preach his sermon he asked the congregation to raise their hands if they had done as he had requested and read the seventeenth chapter. Almost ninety percent of the hands went up saying that they had done as asked. 

The minister looked around the congregation and said, " Now that is really something very special." There were warm smiles all around the church. He then went on, "I t is amazing that so many of you did that considering there are only sixteen chapters in Marks gospel." 

Be sure your sins will find you out. Today i am going to climb Mount Everest I will share it with you tomorrow.  Dishonesty can fool many but the greatest loser is the dishonest person who fools themselves.

Have a marvellous day.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

It is all in the face.

A Woodland Seat. (A Resting Place.)

I go walking most days but with the beautiful weather we have been having I have managed to walk sometimes twice in one day. Other days i have walked and cycled. This week I have been doing an early walk of only four miles but I have been doing it at pace, breaking sweat. It is a tough four miles most of the first two are up a very steep boulder path  under a waterfall and then on and up. At almost exactly halfway it comes down steeply. The little picture above is one of the only spots on the whole route where you could stop and sit. 

One other afternoon I walked in the sun with my friend. My wife took a picture of the two of us as we walked. There we were two old guys who for the last forty-three years have walked, climbed mountains and ran together, now still walking but at a much slower pace.  It was a good picture and it certainly caught us as we are. Oh dear, growing old, and it showing.

As I looked at it I was reminded of the tale of the grandmother and the little girl.

A grandmother was out walking with her granddaughter whose face was sprinkled with bright coloured freckles. As they walked through the park they came to a stall where some ladies were offering to paint the faces of the children in the park. The children were patiently waiting their turns to become tigers and lions. 

One of the children waiting, a boy, saw the granddaughter, and told her, "You have far too many freckles  there is nowhere left to paint."

Embarrassed by his remarks the little girl dropped her head. Her grandmother knelt down next to her , "I love your freckles," she told her.

"Not me," the girl replied.

"Well, when I was a little girl I always wanted freckles," she said, tracing her finger across the little girls cheek. "Freckles are beautiful! Such a shame that little boy does not know that."

The little girl looked up at her grandmother, "Really?"

"Of course, " said the grandmother. "Why just name me one thing that is prettier than freckles." 

The little girl looked into the old woman's face, "Wrinkles," she said.

Where is that little girl when you need her?

Such a shame I really don't have any wrinkles. My face is full of laughter lines that hide the wrinkles. 

I hope you have a good day keep laughing and keep the wrinkles at bay.


Friday, 19 August 2016

I am lost.

There are so many little places that catch you unawares. The little village of Culross ( Pronounced Coo-Ross) is one such place. An historic little place with little narrow lanes and surprises around almost every corner. 

We so easily take the places we are familiar with for granted and fail to notice the beauty. Culross has been one such place for me. When I was in my first or second year at university I spent the summer working on various butcher vans allowing the butcher who usually worked the van to have his holiday. I spent two weeks in the area of Culross with its very narrow streets and my large mobile butchers shop. There were some corners that were difficult to negotiate so I had no time to enjoy the view. I had to keep my eye on the road and the buildings in a very different way. 

So every time I have gone to visit Culross since then I have remembered taking that van up and down those streets and so much of the beauty was lost.  It was only when a friend and her mother visited and we stopped off in Culross that she alerted me to all its hidden little gems. We need others to point us in the right direction to see the beauty in the familiar.

Two little stories to I hope start your day with a smile. Both are true stories and both show how it is so easy to see the familiar but others can see something else.

The son of the minister one morning just before Sunday service asked his father. "Dad, I notice ever Sunday morning when you climb into the pulpit to give your sermon, you bow your head for a moment." 

"What  are your doing?"

The minister smiled and answered, "I am asking God to give me a good sermon."

The ministers sons face grew very serious, "Then why doesn't he?"

I can assure this is a true story.

Another where things look different through the eyes of a child made me smile also.

Billy Graham the well known preacher was visiting a small town as a visiting minister. it was in the times when email was just across the horizon and sending letters was still one of the main means of communication. 

Billy had a letter that he wanted to send but did not know where the nearest post office or post box was. He asked a young boy if he could give him directions to the post office showing him the letter. 

The young lad very politely gave him directions. 

Billy Graham thanked him and said, "If you come to the baptist Church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to heaven."

The boy thought for a moment looking at Billy graham with an earnest look.

" I don't think I'll be there. You don't even know your way to the post office never mind heaven."

Have a good day and look around you you just might be surprised at the beauty you will see.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

A Visit From an Unexpected Guest.

At The Going Down of The Sun.

This is for certain the last version of this large canvas. I have darkened the builds in the centre and added two larger Cyprus trees to the sides in the hope that it stops the eye from roaming over the painting rather draws you into it. 

I know I have had mixed feelings about this one but over the days it has grown on me and I now feel it is worthy of keeping for a bit. 

Seems I have not been getting things right at all these last few days. Sounding grumpy two days ago and yesterday telling a story where the hero, the little bird ends up dead. My apologies, but let me assure I have actually not been feeling bad or down I have been out there walking and feeling productive in the paint space. 

So today let me brighten up the start of your day.  Yesterday my friend and I were out walking together. We began to share some of the shared memories we have of when we were both ministers in parishes close together. 

I was making a comment that some of the times I felt I was struggling and jokingly said maybe the devil was making a better job of it than I was. 

This brought back a tale I remembered from those days.

One bright, beautiful Sunday morning the congregation were gathering in the church prior to the morning service. As they gathered they were all chatting sharing stories about their week, their children and just life in general. There was an upbeat atmosphere brought on by the beautiful day in promise. 

Suddenly at the front of the church, there is a large bang, Satan appears in all his glory. Everyone in the church starts screaming and heading for the door determined to escape this evil. 

Soon the church is empty except for one old man, who sits calmly in his pew, oblivious it seems to the danger. Satan seems confused with this unexpected reaction. 

He walks towards the old man, who does not bat an eyelid and says, "Hey, do you know who I am?"

The old man turns his head, "Yes of course I do."

Satan says, "Well are you not afraid of me like all the others?"

The old man sighs and says, "Not a bit of it. Of course I am not afraid."

Satan now in total confusion says, "And why are you not afraid of me?"

"Well, I have been married to your sister for 45 years, how bad could you be?"

Have a good day. Sun is to be shining here all day and I do not expect to be meeting anything evil. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A little Bird.

At the going down of the sun.

Yesterday the sun was shining so I opened the door of my painting space to let it shine in. The bright light inspired me to use bright colours. I was feeling pleased with the way the paint and I seemed to be singing on the same page. 

While out walking earlier I had noticed one solitary poppy growing at the side of the track. The thought of that solitary poppy filled my mind and strangely filled my painting. 

I asked my wife what she thought of it because it is at the stage of nearing completion. He honest opinion was that it was terrible and she did not like it at all. Neither did the friend who on passing stopped to speak with me. 

Maybe I should have just stayed quiet and asked nobody. That way my enjoyment might have lasted longer. I am not sure now if I want to go and finish it.

This reminded me of the tale of the little bird.

A little bird had left it late to begin making its journey south to avoid the cold winter months. It was so very cold when it soared into the sky. The cold got to its muscles and the poor little bird fell to the ground in a large field.

While it was lying there dying with cold, a cow came by and dropped some dung on him. As the frozen bird lay there in the pile of dung, he began to feel warmer and better. The dung was thawing him out!

He lay there all warm and feeling happy and soon he began to sing with joy. He was alive again. 

A passing cat heard the sound of birdsong and came along to investigate. Following the sound, the cat discovered the bird in the dung heap. As is the way with cats it dug it out, and ate the little bird. The cat left feeling very good. 

It is good to remember that not everybody that shits on you is your enemy.

Not everybody who helps you out of the shit is your friend. 

When you are in the shit, it is best to keep your mouth shut.

Now will I or will I not finish this painting or is it a white over job. Maybe it is time to say nothing and consider for a bit. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Being Greedy.

My apologies for two things, that this blog is so late this morning and that it will be a short one. The Olympics are beginning to catch up with me I have only just got out of bed. Late nights, or early morning are getting to me. That on top of a miserable day yesterday trying to force the paint to work for me. 

I am sure those two things go hand in  hand. It is just not possible to do everything. I find watching the wide variety of sport on offer at the Olympics just so captivating. Not enough to stop me being concerned about  a number of things like the terrible coverage offered by the BBC. I do not think this is the place for my rants. My rants about the policy of the lottery funding going to elite athletes normally from a particular background, in order to win medals. My rant about the number of little back street sports clubs that had to close down because funding was withdrawn. MY rant about the legacy that was cut off before it started. My rant about the secondary increase in the number of families effected by gambling because of all the hype and relaxation of gambling laws.

I will not go into that at all. Just apologise for being so tired from watching it all into the wee small ours.  

I have all those doubts and worries but I am greedy for sport and watching it.

A little tale about being greedy maybe I need to remind myself of.

The King of Benares was out on a hunting trip with his wise counsellor. 

They stopped to feed their horses some peas. Suddenly a young monkey darted down a tree and scooped a huge handful of peas out of the feeding trough. Halfway back up the tree one pea fell from the monkey's furry hands and, in a desperate attempt to catch it, the monkey dropped all the peas he was carrying.

Peas scattered on the ground and the horses ate them. 

The monkey climbed back up the tree empty-handed and sat sadly on a branch. 

The King and his wise counsellor watched this episode with amusement. 

The counsellor chuckled, "Great King, when far too greedy you be, remember that monkey and the pea."

Have a good day I will get ready to clear up the mess from yesterday and maybe make a fresh start today. 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Wasting Time.

I was laughing at a comment made yesterday about my cycle run. That I would be wasting away with all that exercise. Now the strange thing about that was, I cycles with my wife and my friends wife. I do not know about my friends wife but my own wife assures me that having weighed herself before the cycle and again after it she had lost 1.5 lbs. I on the other hand had lost not one little bit. I am in fact the one that needs to lose a few pounds that I put on over the summer. 

So you could say a "Waist," or a waste of time. Maybe I need to keep cycle hard and stop having rests while waiting for her!

It started to men me wonder just how much of my life has been wasted doing things that are of little gain to me? Maybe I need to think about time management?

This reminded me of the story told by the wise sage.

A scholar asked a boatman to row him across the river. 

The journey was long and slow. 

The scholar began to become bored, the journey was taking so long. 

"Boatman," he said, "let's have a conversation." Suggesting a topic of special interest to himself, he asked, "Have you ever studied phonetics or grammar?"

"No," said the boatman, "I've no use for those tools."

"Too bad," said the scholar, "You've wasted half your life. It's useful to know the rules, so that you can speak wise words correctly."

Later, as the rickety boat crashed into a rock in the middle of the river, the boatman turned to the scholar and said, "Pardon my humble mind that to you must seem dim, but, wise man, tell me, have you ever learned to swim?"

"No," said the scholar, "I've never learned. I've immersed myself in thinking, and wisdom."

"In that case," said the boatman, "you've wasted all your life. Alas, the boat is sinking."

There are times when all the things we think are so very very important that we find that may not in fact be the case. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

A Rose.

Yesterday I spent time with family and friends sharing a meal and laughter. It was a wonderful evening throughly enjoyed by me and I hope the others. This morning I looked at the bunch of flowers on the table and they refreshed the memories of the day.

This reminded me of the short but memorable story of a lesson learned.

a young man stopped at a flower shop to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived about 100 miles away. He had not seen her for some time so thought it was time to send some flowers. 

As he got out of the car he noticed a young girl sitting at the side of the road. He recognised her as the girl who stayed close to where he lived. He had spoken to her before and always found he a cheerful girl but he she was sitting in tears. 

He asked her what was wrong and she replied, "I wanted to buy a red rose for my mother But I do  not have enough money to but the rose like my mother wanted and I so wanted to buy it today."

The young man smiled and said , " Come on in with me. I'll buy you a rose."

He bought her the rose and ordered a similar bunch of roses to be sent to his own mother.

As they were leaving the shop he offered the girl a ride home in his car. Knowing who he was she said that she would love to have a lift in the car. Thinking she was heading home he was surprised when she directed him to the cemetery , where she placed the red rose on a grave. 

The man watched quietly and then he drove her the rest of the way home. 

He then returned to the flower shop and cancelled the order for the flowers to be sent. Instead he picked up a large bouquet of roses got back in his car and drove the hundred miles to deliver them to his mother. 

spend as much time as you can with those who love and care for you because time is a precious commodity.