Tag Archives: Glasgow

‘The Daffodil Run’: my Spring Ritual

I  have a ritual which I’ve repeated for a long time now. From late February each year, I go into the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow  via the Kirklee gate entrance, stroll up the path, and have a close look at the earth border to the left. Green shoots are just appearing. I check them every week, as the stems grow taller and sturdier, and the buds fatter. There is a magic moment  in mid to late March when, at last, I see the first daffodil of Spring.

Quite often, I punch the air and go “Yes!!” That moment provides a rush of pleasure which remains with me the whole day.  I call my ritual The Daffodil Run. You think I’m daft? I know it’s an important part of  what keeps me sane.

There are very few clear evening skies in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. If you’re rushing up Byres Road on the way home on one of those rare nights, especially when you cross the Queen Margaret Drive bridge, look out for a small woman standing still, gazing at the sky. That’ll be me, admiring the wonderful, fragile beauty of a new crescent  moon.

 Even in the city, in the increasingly hurried pattern of 21st century life, it is possible to maintain a connection to the cycles of the seasons and the rhythms of nature. It’s increasingly recognised that regular contact of this kind is an important component in establishing and maintaining the kind of inner balance and peace that promotes happiness.

One of the many advantages of living in a small country like Scotland is that access to the great outdoors is not difficult – half an hour out of Glasgow, for example, it is possible to disappear into lovely countryside and forget the existence of the city very quickly. Try it !

It doesn’t matter how stressed you are, how much angst you are carrying. A couple of hours of  tramping across the hills, often in rain and wind, focusing on nothing more complex than  where you put every footstep in order to avoid disappearing up to your waist in a bog, is guaranteed to purge out at least some of it.

Over many years of  walking, I have offered the hills both my joys and my sorrows, and  have found validation for the former and solace for the latter. In homeopathic medicine, broadly speaking, you treat an ailment with a very dilute form of the toxin which caused it. I have found the homeopathic principle works very well with bleakness of the soul or spirit. That condition can be effectively treated by choosing weather and landscape to match your mood, and immersing yourself in it for a few hours. Meeting bleakness with bleakness has a powerfully cleansing effect.

Complementary to this is the powerfully life-affirming effect that natural beauty can have.

"I am the Soul of Nature...."

“I am the Soul of Nature….”

Standing on top of a favourite hill on a sunlit day, looking at stunning panoramic views, listening to the joyous song of a skylark, feeling at one with the wind and the landscape, has on numerous occasions made me feel so glad to be alive that I have wept for joy.

These experiences may fade in the face of the rigours of an average life. But if you repeat them often enough, you develop a sense of being part of the great round of nature, where joy and sorrow, youth, maturity, decline, death and rebirth all have their part. You also learn, slowly, the importance to being a happy person of being able to ” grasp the joy as it flies”, celebrate the moment, “seize the day.”

( First published in “Self & Society”(The Journal of Humanistic Psychology) (UK)Vol 27 No 5, November 1999, then http://www.innerself.com : Innerself Magazine (USA), and most recently – March 09 –  in ‘ The Drumlin’, the Newsletter of Glasgow Botanic Gardens. )

Comments on this article are welcome

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Rumbold Raven’s Magic Menagerie : lost – and found!

Rumbold Raven’s Magic Menagerie” is a series of eighteen short children’s poems featuring an eccentric, colourful assortment of animal characters: Dorelia the extinct Dodo, Feeble Fred the dozy frog, delightfully dreamy Salome Seahorse, and wellyboot-wearing Tiger Tigbaloo to name but a few – all eighteen drawn together by scary but charismatic Rumbold Raven himself.

Rumbold Raven

Rumbold Raven

The book has an interesting story, since it was written by me and illustrated by my artist friend Albert Ennemoser thirty five years ago. At that time, publishers loved the book but rejected it because of the prohibitive cost of producing Albert’s wonderfully detailed and lavishly coloured illustrations.

Albert returned to his native Austria and the book, which he had given to me, gathered dust in my study for decades. It was well and truly lost – under the spare bed in my husband’s study, to be precise.

By the New Year of 2013 Lola, our delightful granddaughter, was nearly two and already a book lover like me. After a visit with her mum Susie and dad Ben in January 2013, whilst hunting under the spare bed for something else, I came across the dusty manuscript of “Rumbold Raven….” and looked through the poems again.

They leapt off the pages, lively and quirky as ever. “Mmmm”, I said to my husband Ian, Lola’s granddad. “Lola would love this book, wouldn’t she?” So, with the able help of local web designers co-occurrence, it has at last been born. Enjoy!

******
“There are very few children’s books that manage to combine great writing with great illustrations. “Rumbold Raven’s Magic Menagerie” has managed to do both. This book is a treasure of beautiful illustrations and engaging words. Each story and picture is unique and will have children’s imaginations captured. The fact that they are both beautiful to look at and interesting to read makes them unusual. I am hoping to frame a couple for my child’s room. Well done Anne for persevering and bringing these treasures to us now after all these years.”

******

Emily Cutts, independent psychology researcher and community activist with Glasgow, UK’s “The Children’s Wood” campaign.

******

You can download a free two page sample from Rumbold Raven’s Magic Menagerie as a PDF (480KB) and if you like it, why not buy the entire book of eighteen characters for $8.00? Just press the Paypal button below and I will send you the PDF by email.

New to PayPal? Need to know how to set up an account? Click PayPal Easy Guide

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

*********************

400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

*********************

 

Tragedy, shock….and heartwarming courage. Glasgow today.

As I write, thirty two people are in emergency hospital beds across our city. We do not know how many people have died as sniffer dogs, fire and police service personnel carefully comb the rubble of the Clutha Vaults pub, searching for signs of life – or death. Shocked families wait to hear news of their loved ones.

Clutha Vaults helicopter crash

Clutha Vaults helicopter crash

This is a devastating incident which has touched many lives and will continue to do so as the days and weeks unfold.  With profound irony, this is St Andrews Day: a day when we celebrate the richness of what it means to be Scottish.

And yet….

We lay in bed this morning, shocked, having woken up on a lazy Saturday to awful news. And yet….through the jagged tempo of tragedy, we began to hear the strong heartbeat of Glasgow. A heartbeat we have heard before through other tragedies. The strong pulse of ordinary citizens caring for one another, some risking their lives to do so, not knowing whether the pub shattered by a helicopter’s plummet from the night sky was going to explode into fire and flames.

People called the emergency services immediately. Others formed a human chain to escort their fellows blinded by dust, blood and shock to safety. Passers by did not run away: they ran to see what could be done to help. Other folk sat on the street with the injured, tucked their emergency blankets round them, waited till the ambulances came. The rescue operation, well planned, swung fast into action. Gordon Matheson, the City Council leader, was eloquent in his praise of rescue services – and of ordinary citizens.

There is another Glasgow, a generous spirited Glasgow, the one that films sensationalising Glasgow’s at times violent history do not show. I am a Glaswegian by adoption, having lived here for over thirty years, my husband even longer. I too have been on the receiving end of the small and large kindnesses, laughs and warmth which are characteristic of living here. I hope I have returned these too.

Today, in the midst of disruption, pain and tragedy, I feel proud to call myself a citizen.

*********************

400 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

*********************

Even sceptics see ghosts !

Samhain Blessings!

Samhain Blessings!

Have you ever seen a ghost? Even when you did not believe in them? I would be interested to hear your stories as we enter the time when the ‘veil between the worlds’ is supposedly thin….here is my story….do leave yours as a comment on this post. 

An imaginative child, I found going upstairs to bed scary most nights, having probably heard too many ghost stories as I grew up in the storm-tossed Outer Hebrides – home to many a Celtic tale of the otherworld of the supernatural. 

There was the woman wrapped in plaid who jostled my maternal grandfather in the winter dark as he traversed the remote, eerie Uig Glen. There was my maternal great-grandmother’s hearing the wheels of lorries rumbling through her remote village toward a deserted headland – many years before they actually came, bearing the materials to build an RAF station there. There was at least one ghost car. There were the shades of the dead appearing to those few in possession of the Sight – sure harbingers of imminent family death. There were ghostly lights luring sailors to their deaths in stormy seas. More has been forgotten than I could ever now recall.

Fortunately for me, vivid imagination has always sat in tandem with a strongly empirical streak. So I was a true sceptic –– until the day I  saw a ghost for myself….

Perthshire, Scotland, Autumn 1977

It was the autumn of 1977. My twenties had been turbulent. Restless wandering – from one career to another, one city to another, one set of friendships to another, and one dwelling place to another – characterised the whole decade. Now, I was in a mood to settle. Time to face my dissatisfactions, rather than running away when novelty wore off and disillusion set in.

Resolution thus colouring my mood, I left Dundee in September 1977 to do my social work training at Glasgow University. Having been such a hippie in my twenties, all I owned could be fitted into several boxes and stowed in the back of my old blue Morris Traveller.

I set off to spend a night or two, en route to my new abode in Glasgow, with my boyfriend at the time who lived in the scenic market town of Perth, half way between Dundee and Glasgow. The Dundee to Perth road was mostly dual carriageway, and a distance of about twenty five miles. I drove happily through the area known as the Carse of Gowrie, which grew the best raspberries in Britain. “Pity I’m in a hurry”, I thought. “A few raspberries for supper would be nice.” It was a clear evening, around seven pm, growing dusk. There was very little traffic on the road. A few miles outside Perth, my headlights picked out a male cyclist on a racing bike, a little way ahead of me. I pulled into the overtaking lane to pass him – and he vanished.

I arrived at Peter’s flat very shaken by this experience. “I can’t believe I imagined it. What I saw was definitely a cyclist. He was as substantial on that road as you are, standing right now in your kitchen !”

Peter was quiet for a few moments. He looked thoughtful, as if trying to decide whether to say something or not. At last he told me that a young male cyclist had been killed on that stretch of road a year or so previously. This was something of which I had no knowledge. Why should his ghost appear to me?

“Firstly, because you’re so sensitive anyway. Cast your mind back to some other odd happenings which have occurred  since we’ve been together. Secondly, your life is in transition. I think at those times, normal consciousness is more porous, as it were. Impressions from other layers of ‘reality’ find it easier to seep through….”

I remember feeling quite relieved that I wouldn’t be travelling on that stretch of road for the foreseeable future….

**************************

NOTE: this story is an extract from “Wisps from the Dazzling Darkness – a sceptic’s take on paranormal experience “ which will be available as a downloadable pdf from this site shortly. If you’d like to be informed of the publication date, do send your email address to me at: info@anne-whitaker.com, titling the email “Dazzling Darkness book”.

**************************

700 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

**************************

 

Excitement in Glasgow’s Children’s Wood at the end of June….

“Wild spaces are invaluable to children, especially those growing up in
towns. They stimulate the imagination and nurture the spirit. Places
like the Children’s Wood within North Kelvin Meadow (Glasgow) are hard to come
by in urban settings and so should be preserved at all costs.”

Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo and recent U.K Children’s Laureate

****

This is not just a local issue. This issue is one of the major challenges of our time right across the world.

****

Our local campaign has gained great momentum and attracted world-wide attention in the last year: come down to the The Children’ Wood and support the latest event!

Scotland’s greatest living artist and writer Alasdair Gray will read, for the first time ever, to an audience of children on the 30th June, 2013. He has chosen to read from the well loved Just So Stories and some Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales.

There will be many activities for all ages to enjoy during the afternoon: food, crafts, lucky dips, second hand children’s items, window boxes, home baking, face painting, plus lots more….

Alasdair Gray at The Children's Wood

Alasdair Gray at The Children’s Wood

Do come along and support the campaign. If you can’t do that, then how about Liking the Children’s Wood Facebook page?

 

The Children’s Wood West-End Festival Gala programme

Our local Glasgow, Scotland UK campaign continues with some summer fun for young and old. Do come along and support us!

The Children's Wood and North Kelvin Meadow

The Children's Wood West-End Festival Gala programme

We’ve got a fantastic line up of activities and stalls for our Gala this SUnday (2nd June). There will be something for everyone. We hope to see you there. Join the conversation on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/TheChildrensWood

View original post

Help save our Children’s Wood: support the protest any way you can, wherever you are….

“Wild spaces are invaluable to children, especially those growing up in
towns. They stimulate the imagination and nurture the spirit. Places
like the Children’s Wood within North Kelvin Meadow (Glasgow) are hard to come
by in urban settings and so should be preserved at all costs.”

Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo and U.K Children’s Laureate

Children's Wood Protest 1

Children’s Wood Protest 1

(photo: Anne Whitaker)

This is not just a local issue. This issue is one of the major challenges of our time right across the world.

As Dr Carol Craig, CEO of The Centre for Confidence and Well-being, has recently said:

“For decades we have restricted children’s freedom to play outdoors and there’s growing evidence  that this trend is damaging their physical health and emotional well-being. We now have to take positive steps to ensure that children have easy access to wild spaces like the Children’s Wood in the North Kelvin Meadow. It would be a travesty if this special place for children disappeared under concrete.”

Our local North Kelvin Meadow campaign takes an important step forward on Thursday 4th April 2013 from 11.45 am until 12.30 pm with a second protest demonstration outside the City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. Do come along and join us – if you can’t make it, do send this link to ANYONE you think can contribute to saving our meadow in any way: friends, community activists, bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers, journos……it all helps!

BACKGROUND STORY:

May 2012 saw the start of The Children’ Wood – an offshoot of the sterling efforts of the North Kelvin Meadow Campaign, for the last few years the latest in several local initiatives, whose objective over a long period of time now has been to save a patch of local waste ground for community green space use, as opposed to its hosting yet another set of newbuild flats  – in an already built up area –  if Glasgow City Council’s plan for the space goes ahead.

To give you a wonderful ‘flavour’ of what this land means to our community, DO watch this brilliant short film Dear Green Place made recently by film maker James Urquhart.

AND – to sign our on-line petition, go HERE. Thanks!!

Meadow in the CityThe Children’s Wood

(photo: Anne Whitaker)

*********

NOTE: Blog/Twitter followers, Facebook friends, community activists and enthusiasts, please do what you can to pass this information around your networks. Thanks!

*********

400 words copyright /Anne Whitaker 2013
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

*********