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Awake Again


Salvador Dali – Sleep


It’s one of the reasons I have this blog. What else does one do when at four o’clock one wakes up with metaphorical flashing lights in one’s heid? When an inner voice says “You’re no getting back to sleep this time big fella!”

My sleep pattern over the last few days was Tuesday night: Hardly one wink. Wednesday: Completely exhausted, so went to bed at 7:30pm. Slept like a baby until 7:00am. Last night went to bed at 11:00pm. Here I am at 4:30 having tried for an hour to get back to sleep.

Sometimes I can drift back. In such cases it is usually with the aid of an audio guided sleep track. There are 100s on Spotify.

I have found this one helpful.

David Wilson – Deep and Restful Sleep Guided Meditation

This one isn’t bad either.

Dr Elaine Ryan – Relaxation | Guided Autogenic Relaxation (without Wake Up)

Sometimes reading helps.

However, there are some cases where I simply know that it’s going to be futile to even try to get back to sleep.

It’s really something I wasn’t troubled much with in days gone by. In fact almost no matter what time I went to bed, I’d have a good sleep and wake at 7:00am with no need for an alarm. For the last five or six years it has been a lottery whether I’ll get to sleep or not. One thing that has remained constant is that no matter how tired I may be, I almost always wake before 7:00am.

Even this speech about the subject isn’t quite boring enough to send me into somnus again.

Where did the time go?

In 1985 Ronald Raegan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for the first time in Geneva. British Telecom announced that it was to begin phasing out its red telephone boxes. Mixed race marriage in South Africa was made legal.

Football disasters at Bradford and Heysel killed a total of 94 spectators.

The average house price in the UK was £40,000 and a gallon of petrol was £1.88

It was the year of the charity record with USA for Africa, Jagger and Bowie and “The Crowd” all doing their bit.

Other top tunes of the year came from Dead or Alive, The Eurithmics and a young Whitney Houston.

Dumbarton started the year in the Scottish Premier League.

No one had heard of the world wide web and Windows 95 was ten years in the future.

It was a long time ago.

That was when I opened the doors of my pet business for the first time. Twenty eight years later, yesterday, after many an achievement, many a disappointment, many a change and many a laugh, I walked out of the door as owner for the last time. I’m pleased that the business will continue and wish the new owners well in that endeavour.

Onwards and upwards!


About four weeks ago I started getting pains in my shoulder and neck. Over time it has got more and more painful and uncomfortable. I have a TENS machine which I wrote about here. I actually have the one with four pads and one with two. I had them all on but it was clear that this was a job too far for them.

On my return from Englandshire, I contacted The Lomond Clinic about some physiotherapy because the seizing up had got so bad that I was a danger on the road. When I got to a junction I could only turn to see what traffic was coming with great difficulty.

On Tuesday the physiotherapist, Dee, twisted and turned me, kept firing a contraption which sounded like a toy gun in my neck and stuck several acupuncture needles into me. Whilst it doesn’t inspire you when one hears a physio saying “ooh” “oh dear” and “eeee” when she is examining you, I have to say that Tuesday’s visit, followed by another this morning, has me if not gambolling across a field like a spring lamb, at least able to turn and see a Range Rover at 50 yards.

And now…..hopefully….for a decent night’s sleep!

Fathers Day

Whilst I of course disapprove of the rampant commercialism of such occasions, I am prepared to make exceptions!



Film Star

There is little this writer enjoys more than good customer service. When that is combined with a good price for a job then I like to tell people about it. For example I wrote here about an occasion when I received great service and a great price on iPod repairs.

As readers will know I’m spending a bit of time in the East Midlands at the moment. I’m on a course related to a project I’m involved in. When you’re away from home, life doesn’t stop – there are things one has to do.

I have an old video camera 8mm cassette film, taken in 1999 which I needed transferred to DVD. The subject matter of the film is quite dry and relates to the comparative condition of a building between then and now.

On Sunday I did a search on Google for someone in the Grantham area who could transfer my film on to DVD and found Cold Harbour Films. I contacted them via their webform to ask if they could do the job for me, explaining that I would be local to them this week but occupied during the day.

Gordon Seabrook replied almost immediately with directions to his home from where his business is run. He also said I could drop the film off in the evening or that he would collect the film at my course venue if required.

On Monday evening I went to Gordon’s house and dropped off the film. On Tuesday he sent me a text to say that the job was done so last night I went to collect the two DVDs I had requested.

When I arrived Gordon explained that he had found some other film on the cassette, long forgotten footage of my kids as babies. He had edited that into a lovely presentation with a pictorial DVD case. When I got back to my hotel I found that Gordon had put an animated menu on the DVD with some music playing whilst you make your choice. All this had been done (wait for it!) at no extra charge!! The charge was very reasonable indeed in the first place.

He had also done an excellent job on transferring the original film to DVD.


I have no hesitation in recommending Cold Harbour Films. Gordon says they are pleased to do work via post on a quick turnaround.

A list of the services they do can be found here

Those Magnificent Men

It wasn’t quite a scene from the 1965 film:

films-1965-those-magnificent-men-in-their-flying-machinesHowever when progressing from the departure gate at Glasgow Airport yesterday, this was the sight that greeted me on the tarmac.


No worries though, a safe and swift journey to East Midlands followed. It’s always reassuring to see an infeasibly thin blonde air hostess with far too much make-up. It makes you realise that despite the plane looking like something from WW2, this was a real flight. I hadn’t realised that East Midlands Airport is adjacent to the village of Castle Donington, famous as a former formula 1 motor racing and rock concert venue.


I took the on board easy payment terms at a reasonable APR on a Kit-Kat and a black coffee.
I’m also pleased to report that the journey was nutter free. I think this was at least partly due to the fact we didn’t stop at Drumgelloch.

It’s a sign

Continuing my adventures in Grantham, I passed this street sign this morning.


Which suggests that the locals have a rather less diligent attitude to the defacing of signs than they do in Scotland.


I’m writing from Englandshire this week.

Yesterday I had the seemingly simple task of travelling by train from West Central Scotland to the (English) East Midlands by train. My connection in Edinburgh was for 14:00. Now that trains travel direct from Helensburgh to the Scottish capital, with an approximate journey time of two hours, I identified the 11:13 as the best option. That would get me to Auld Reekie by 1:15 and allow a meander to the correct platform at Waverley via Marks and Spencer’s Food Shop.

So as I stood on the weed infested platform at Craigendoran, the Big Brother style speaker blared “I am sorry to inform customers (customers? f*****g passengers!) that the 11:13 to Edinburgh has been cancelled” OK I thought, I’ll just get the next train at 11:43. That’ll get me to Edinburgh about 13:45, still plenty of time to get my connection “Also the 11:43 to Edinburgh has been cancelled. The next Edinburgh train will now be at 12:13.

Fantastic. No replacement train or anything! Quick desperate phone call to the missus saw me, via a hastily arranged lift, at Dumbarton on a train from Balloch (ten minutes late) to Glasgow to somehow connect with an Edinburgh train in Glasgow. There was no certainty of this though as a shoulder shrug seemed to be the limit of the railway staffs’ communication skills.

So I’m on this train “The next station is Bowling. Please mind the gap when alighting from this train” Bowling? I’ve been travelling that line for over fifty years and can never remember a train stopping at Bowling. Trains only stop at Bowling every seventh Tuesday at 10am — FFS!!!!

Got to Glasgow, into the lift to the upper level. I had missed the 12:45 to Edinburgh by two minutes. The whole thing was reminiscent of the John Cleese film Clockwise:

Got the 13:00 train which got me to Edinburgh with less than ten minutes to spare, a quick dash of what seemed like half a mile to the correct platform and I was on the Kings Cross train with minutes to spare.

Anyhoo, here in Grantham the birthplace of that very famous, lauded, innovative and influential character…….Sir Isaac Newton.

Actually today I remembered Thaggie’s famous No! No! No! speech and wondered if this sign at the Sir Isaac Newton Shopping Centre had borrowed from the sentiment.


Propaganda for the 21st Century

As I wandered amongst the skyscrapers in downtown Dubai, it was reminiscent of New York.

I remember when we visited the Big Apple in the mid 90s being told of the phallic ambitions of the Rothschilds, Chryslers, Vandebilts and the like to build the highest building in the world. Standing at the 86th floor of the Empire State Building as darkness fell, surveying Manhattan and New York below was quite a thrill and certainly an experience I will never forget.

The overall height of the Empire State Building, at the time of its erection (sic) and for many years afterwards the tallest building in the world, is 1,453 feet or 443 metres.

In Dubai, I stood next to the current holder of the title of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Burj means tower and the Khalifa part of the name comes from the president of the UAE, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. At 2717 feet or 828 metres it’s a kick in the arse away from being twice the height of the Empire State Building.

We came out of the unfeasibly huge Dubai Shopping Mall onto the rather pleasant terrace which houses various restaurants (just don’t ask for a beer or a bacon sandwich) and borders the man-made lake which is the location of these fountains.

On this occasion I only had the wee camera and from a couple of hundred yards away I had to squint it to get the majority of the building in:


However, to get a taste of how truly enormous the Burj Khalifa is, watch the following video. The narrative is fairly typical of what you hear from tour guides and information recordings in Dubai. Always delivered in either an American film trailer voiceover style or a rich, plummy English motif, the content is usually redolent of a wartime propaganda film.

On the open-topped bus tour, the rich, plummy English voice informed that “The state religion of Dubai is Islam. Islam is a very progressive and tolerant religion and people are permitted to practice their religious faith whatever that may be”. And that was the tone of the whole guided tour.

Anyhoo, here is the vid:

Desert Song

On Saturday afternoon we were picked up at our hotel in downtown Dubai by our Indian driver in a very smart Toyota Lancruiser. We then drove for about an hour, stopping to pick up some other folks who were also booked on the ‘desert safari’. One of our fellow travelers was Farhan who was Bangladeshi, brought up in the USA (spoke with an American accent) but now lived in Abu Dhabi.

I decided to try the old joke. Farhan, do you know that the people in Dubai don’t like the Flinstones?” “Oh really?” he replied with a quizzical look “Yes it’s true” I continued “The people in Dubai don’t like the Flintstones but the people in Abu Dhabi do!” Farhan thought this was hilarious and couldn’t wait to share.

We stopped at a parade which had a few shops, joining more white Toyota Landcruiers and some Hummers. We were advised to stock up on water. There were guys selling Arab head dresses at 200 AED a pop (about £40). They pounced on you as you entered the shop and wrapped the garment expertly.

Then it was off to the desert, by this time in a convoy with what seemed like hundreds of Landcruisers. We stopped at the edge of the desert as the drivers all got out and let half the air out of the tyres. What followed was the best roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on.


We swooped, skidded and slid, up over and across the sand dunes in dramatic and at times quite scary fashion.


After a while we stopped for photos.



Then another drive and a stop at our desert restaurant/theatre. Some tried a camel ride.


Then there was a meal during which we were entertained by a dancing display:




This excursion was probably the highlight of the week and cost only around £40 including everything. It’s a must for anyone visiting Dubai.