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Life’s little challenges



As we slide slowly out of winter and into spring our garden bird population enlarges once again, in more ways than one.






Our old friends the siskins and the goldfinches have spent the winter abroad somewhere and their return each year is as clear a sign of spring’s arrival as there could be. The swallows have also made it back, which means of course that there are insects for them that have survived cold and frost of recent months.




Memories of the chaos caused here by tons of windblown snow fade as the remainder of the white stuff disappears from the landscape. Arran’s mountains have at last resumed their summer colours, just in the last week or so, and

this picture serves as a reminder of how we struggled through those cold days. We have to hope that now repairs to the power lines brought to earth by the snow are almost complete, lessons have been learnt by the power company from the experience that will prevent a recurrence of these events. But I doubt it. And it is still one of life’s mysteries (to me) that the electricity to our village can fail when the machines that produce it, the wind turbines erected on the hills behind us, still continue to function. I have heard the various explanations for this but a little brain like mine still does not understand why this has to be so.

Although we might like to resume the more adventurous lifestyle we had adopted since retirement, Kate and I have each taken on a number of responsibilities, sometimes conflicting, that keep us close to home and busier than we might like to be. Kate’s training as a nurse has proved invaluable for our son Mike in seeing him through his recent treatment and my mother living right next door to us must feel reassured that such an experienced carer is so close at hand. Kate’s feelings as a mother will always take priority but nevertheless balancing these demands can be very challenging. But when you add to this the Village Hall business and Kate’s commitment to minute-taking for our local social enterprise company she finds she has little time for herself.

On my part a set of useful skills I never realised I had, the ability to build websites, is suddenly in demand in our village. Experience gained through maintaining  this blog has given me the ability to set up and manage other websites which are needed to support the new projects Carradale is spawning this year. Mike’s return home has signalled the need for more trips to Glasgow, a task Kate and I share, but combining this with the responsibility I carry for my mother’s care needs and her GP visits can make my own day to day life quite complicated too.

Of course none of this is what we expected when we first came to Carradale. We thought we had signed up for a quiet unassuming lifestyle, looking after only ourselves and generally being left to our own devices apart from occasional family visits. As it has turned out our lives have been taken over by events beyond our control, just like last month’s snow storm impacting the lives of the group of people amongst whom we live.

What is encouraging is to see Mike feeling well enough to get involved in something he is really rather good at. When it comes to computers I am reasonably comfortable going about putting together the material we see on the screen, creating a few pages of words strung together to make some sort of sense. Mike, on the other hand, now that his body is healing well, takes on a rather different computing challenge.

This started when a series of large boxed parcels begin arriving at our door, Mike smuggling them upstairs to his room before we had a chance to see what they were. The box largest of all, rather larger than the largest suitcase you would want to go on holiday with, turns out to be the case for the colossal computer he has decided to build for himself. Armed with nothing more than a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and various instruction manuals, most of which he never even glances at, he begins to unpack each box and fit the contents inside the case, plugging the rats nest of black connecting wires into place as he goes along. Just like his old dad, Mike is self taught, but he moves with such assurance that I am confident he knows exactly what he is doing. From time to time I am summoned to help him lift the case (which now weighs more than that holiday suitcase) to the floor or turn it around so he can slot in another complicated piece of electronics but I have to confess I wonder how anything so complex will ever be made to work. Surely he can’t expect to just throw a switch to make it work, thousands of calculations a second buzzing away in its processors, with every part connected perfectly to everything else. Most likely, I conclude, he will power it up and nothing will happen, leading to months of cursing and swearing, crawling about inside the case with a small torch held in his teeth, poking each part in turn with his screwdriver as if this will make a difference. I base this conclusion, of course, on my own experience with building anything complex and powered by electricity, which I have to say is pretty limited. Needless to say this is not what happens. The very next time I pass his room he is sitting at the computer screen (which came from another large box) with a smile of quiet satisfaction on his face and maybe just a trace of smugness too. And who can blame him!

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One Response to Life’s little challenges

  1. Lovely to read this and to hear that Mike is healing. Will try to catch you for a chat over next couple of days. Rich

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