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Finding ourselves getting to know the centre of Glasgow so well was not something we really expected when we came to live in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands. Throughout our working lives we had been committed to living close to one large conurbation or another – in alphabetical order the list is Canterbury, Exeter, Ipswich, Liverpool, London, Newcastle – but we had been tempted to think that on retiring from work the dubious delights of city life were behind us. Not so, it seems.

On our second visit to accompany Mike and help him secure the treatment he needs, non-stop rain suited our mood but otherwise added nothing to the experience. Across the city large ponds of water spread out over the roads – something I believe the forecasters describe as ‘localised flooding’ – making walking on the pavements risky and needing sharp reactions when a bus sprayed out of the dismal light and swooshed past us. Everything about us was shiny and wet and the water gradually penetrated our shoes as we tramped about the streets. It was weather to stay out of, and normally we would, but on this occasion we needed to be here in the middle of this big city. Mike has many more visits to the city to endure over the coming winter and he will be getting to know the ins and outs of the Scottish health system better than is probably good for him. The experience is not always entirely beneficial to good health, particularly if you ever have to rely upon hospital transport to carry you from one hospital to another.Campbeltown hospital A&E Expect a long detour around the city, many hours of sitting uncomfortably in the ambulance staring out at the rainy darkness with no idea of where you are going and no end in sight, before finally going anywhere near your destination. They call this “patient care” and it is strangely at odds with the otherwise attentive and professional service being handed out by the medical profession.

Throughout all this, and without really having to say anything, spiritual and moral support for Mike has come pouring in from our village community, from family and from friends old and new. We are grateful beyond words for this.

Then, just when we thought things could get no worse for our family health-wise, my mother has her own turn in hospital – Campbeltown and Oban for her – with a chest infection. Once again the Scottish Ambulance Service rolls into action and takes her on a lengthy and uncalled for detour through Inveraray so we are beginning to think that this is the norm here for hospital transport rather than the exception. Normally one would not complain about a free ride through beautiful Highland scenery but to be put through this unexpectedly when not feeling in the best of health is maybe not a good recipe for quick recovery. Maybe they have confused their motto with that other SAS; ‘Who Dares Wins’ has become ‘Who Cares for a Spin’.

There is one member of our family who favours concert venues over hospitals and this has taken him around the country once again with The Albion Band. Ben’s role playing lead guitar

is gaining him rave reviews in places that matter, cementing his position and gaining recognition for his talents. The Band have just finished their Autumn/Winter tour and the video is from their final gig at the Great British Folk Festival at Butlins in Skegness. Thankfully Ben is keeping himself well away from hospitals.

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