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Here are excerpts from a year-end Christmas letter Linda is sending her aunt and uncle in Canada:

"How quickly has this year gone – again!  We really enjoyed having you and Aidan visit. He is such a charming young man and he really fitted in here. I sat chatting to him about all sorts and it reminded me of when Steven and I did exactly that. Really good memories!

Darrin completed his Masters degree in Carbon Management. It was a very intense course and hard work but he really enjoyed it and is now in the process of having interviews for jobs. He has had a couple of interviews so fingers crossed – there aren’t too many jobs in his field in this area. Breaking news - Today he has been offered a job as an instructor in Electrical Engineering and Carbon Management with Dumfries and Galloway College.

As you know, I took early retirement in the summer and I have been so busy since that I now wonder when I found time to work! I had a lovely retiral, with special ex-colleagues also there which made my day , and Andy and my Dept had decorated the hall with pink and purple balloons and flowers. I got so many cards and gifts... ....

I really don’t miss school as much as I expected to – Andy says it is because Adam has given me new focus and I think he is right. He really is the joy of our lives. We look after him 1 or 2 days every week since Jenny went back to work part-time in October. He was one on November 30th and is such a happy and clever little boy – and gorgeous with it!!!  He had his first taste of cake (Jenny spent hours making it then decorating it with his favourite TV programme, Balamory) and he spat it out!!! Not a sugar fan – I remember Aidan eating his first cake! 

Adam is growing so fast! He and our Tess are best of friends already! She is so good and patient with him and she seems to understand that he is just little. He is very active and crawls at great speed and is walking round the furniture and can stand alone a little. He looks very like my Dad, and is the double of Jenny when she was that age, but taller.

Jenny is having big problems with her shoulder – ....  ....  It is worse on the days she is at school. Andy is still working at “my” school and enjoying it.

In the summer my father-in-law, Doug, came to introduce us to his new wife, Darlene – we enjoyed meeting her and they seem very happy. It was strange to see him with someone else but she seems very nice.

In October we all went to Marbella, Spain, to celebrate the wedding of our friends, Nicole and Graham, from Dublin. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed our week out there in the sunshine. It was nice being able to go away at that time of the year. Jenny and Andy came for the weekend as he had to get back to school. Adam stayed with Andy's parents as he was too young to come and it would have been difficult with his routine. Jenny really missed him!

Our animals are mostly doing well – we sadly lost Blanket (gerbil), Jet (rabbit) and Luna (guinea pig) recently and have welcomed two new guinea pigs, Archie and Edie, into or family. Our elderly cat, Tansy, is now 17 but is fairly fit, while our horse, Meggie, is doing well since taking medication for Cushings Disease. Tessie is her usual bouncy self – still doing tricks!

As always we miss my Mum and Dad, Aunt Irene and mother-in-law, Marcia, but we know that they are happy and close by.

We hope this finds you all well and wish you a peaceful Christmas and a healthy 2012. I hope you visit again soon – Uncle Jim too!!! Give him a huge hug from Jenny and I."

November 2005


What happened about 5 years ago in November 2005 ?  In the continuing chronicle of my life, here's what happened:

 - Cleared out Aunt Irene's house.  She died in late Ocober 2005.

 - I start using entry tags in my Livejournal blog.

 - Linda and I decide to dislike Jamie Oliver because he killed a lamb on TV.  Well, she does.  I just dislike him because he's annoying.

 - Rose, the guinea pig, is murdered by our other guinea pigs.

- I go to coffee places a lot after work in Glasgow.

November 17th, 2005 in a Glasgow coffee place:

"So, I'm having a coffee and reading this newspaper article about coffee.

Coffee is very good for you, it says here. Yeah, it helps to protect against dementia, blocks a neurotransmitter that does something to cause Alzheimer's. It helps concentration... we knew that. Cures headaches. Helps with asthma symptoms. Prevents baldness (if you drink 60 to 80 cups a day, which I do). If you rub coffee on your thighs, it gets rid of cellulite. Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Coffee is a very good birth control method. Protects against gallstones, kidney stones, and lots of other stones as well. Protects against liver disease. Helps your bones (lattes only).... and lots, lots more.

So drink up."

October 2005


Still catching up on this.... Here are some things going on in my journal about 5 years ago...

October 2005

- Irene is in the hospital still (since early July) and has taken a turn for the worse, despite an operation. She dies in late October.

- I go on a course in Manchester for work

- aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

- Earthquake in Pakistan

September 2005

About 5 years and a few months ago in my journal....

September 2005

 - New Orleans is flooded after Hurricane Katrina

 - Linda's Aunt Irene is in hospital, gets an operation

 - I get a tatanus shot, at Linda's insistance, after being bitten on the finger by a dog which had a little fight with Tess

 -  I helped round up a cow in the road

 - I'm going to the gym regularly

 - I visit Selkirk with Tess

 - I visit St. Ninian's cave with Tess and we have a religious experience.  More info here.

Christmas Letter


Linda's Christmas letter this year...

Christmas 2010 
Well here we are again at the end of another busy year. 
Darrin and I began 2010 in sunny Arizona where we were visiting his Dad, Doug, and enjoyed picking oranges and having a glass of wine outside on New Year’s Day – a real novelty! We then returned to arctic conditions – a real contrast!
Darrin has had a career change this year. He was made redundant in February and made the decision to go back to being a student and is currently studying for a Masters degree in Carbon Management with Glasgow University, but at Dumfries Campus. He is enjoying it, although it is hard work, but he is doing well, scoring A’s!
We had nice visit from Doug in the summer and took a few day trips together, which was fun.
The BIG news was, of course, the birth of our gorgeous grandson, Adam John McNay (middle name after my Dad) on November 30th (St. Andrew’s Day). He has completely changed our lives for the better and we can’t imagine before he came! Jenny had a long labour which resulted in him arriving by emergency section but, thankfully, both are well. I intend to look after him a day a week when Jenny returns to work part-time in October. :-)
Here are some photos ...

 In snowman suit which we bought him! 
 Happy family arriving home for the first time.
Everyone is well, including the furries, although Meggie has Equine Cushings Disease but is doing well. 
We miss Mum, Dad, Marcia and Aunt Irene but they are close and proud of Adam.
We hope this finds you all well and happy and we wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful 2011.
Much love to all,
Linda, Darrin, Jenny, Andy and Adam xxxxx

Summer 2005


Five years ago in my life....

June 2005

 - Linda, Jenny, Andy and I go to Ireland for the weekend...  flying from Edinburgh...  for Nicole's 21st birthday celebrations.  We attended the party in Skerries and a dinner in Dublin.

 - Mistletoe the rabbit dies.

 - Linda and I see the musical production of "High Society" in Edinburgh

July 2005

 - The old black Vauxhall Corsa fails its MOT, and I start thinking about getting another car...  

 - We go to a Chuck Berry concert at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall...  but Chuck Berry didn't show up (or showed up late, actually) so the concert was cancelled.

 - I buy my new car...  a new SEAT Ibiza.

 - We go to a Brian Wilson concert in Glasgow.... our fourth time.

 - Linda's Aunt Irene is in the hospital after having mini-strokes and a bowel infection.

 - One of Joy's horses hurts its leg badly and needs to see specialists in Edinburgh.

 - We get two bunnies, Serena and Sam.

- I start using Livejournal for my on-line blog...

August 2005

 - We have a free mini holiday at a resort place near Girvan because of a timeshare presentation we had gone to a while back.  We go to see Culzean Castle and a few Burns-related National Trust properties in Ayrshire.  We also drive down the coast to Portpatrick.  We look for Sawney Bean's cave, but miss it.

 - Aunt Irene is very poorly in the hospital.  We make frequent visits.

 - After incessant badgering from Linda, I join a gym and start to go regularly after work in Glasgow.


December 1999

Last month... 10 years ago....  here's what was going on in my journal....

 - As my U.S. driver's licence only allowed me to legally drive in the UK for one year, and as I arrived to live in the UK in December 1998, I find that I need to get a UK driver's licence... which I do...  starting by studying for and taking the Driver's Theory Test....  not as easy as it sounds.

- Results of the Theory Test come in...  I scored a 34 out of 35...  next step is the practical test, which I take and pass in January.

 - I live up in Old Kilpatrick during the working week, as I work in Glasgow.

 - I get a new leased car, from a company program...  a blue Rover 220 turbo diesel.  The previous one was the same, except green.

 - Christmas was spent at home with Linda's parents and Aunt Irene...

 - Millenium New Year's was spent at home also, with Carl coming up from London.

Christmas Letter


Linda's Christmas Letter...

Christmas 2009

This has been a year of highs and lows. We had the Wedding of our lovely daughter, Jenny, in April, but also the tragic death of my dear mother-in-law, Marcia, in October.

I started off the year with a low – I had moved my horse, Meggie, to a new place in January and, on Burns Day (Jan 25th), I was leading her out to the field when she saw pigs and got a fright. I slipped and fell in front of her. She tried to avoid me but clipped me and I ended up being taken to hospital with badly bruised ribs. I am still not fully recovered from this!

The main high of the year was, of course, Jenny and Andy’s Wedding on April 4th. This took a great deal of careful and fun planning – which was good for us after the tragic loss of my Mum last year. We missed terribly her and Dad not being there in person but we believe that they were with us in spirit.

Jenny had two Hen Weekends, one with all the girls and us “oldies” (in Edinburgh), and one with the bridesmaids (at Crieff Hydro) and Sarah’s Mum, Linda, who is also a best friend of mine. The boys had a Stag Night where, as well as go-karting, they dressed the groom and best man as babies!

The big day was so very special and many guests said it was among the best they’d ever attended. Jenny was a stunningly beautiful bride and walked down the aisle alone because she had always planned that Papa would walk along side her and she believes that he was there doing just that – he would be so proud of her. Her veil took off at one point and landed on the roof and we believe – as others also commented – that it was Granny and Papa, as well as her Godmother, her Great Aunt Irene, showing us they were there.

We were delighted that Darrin’s parents, Doug and Marcia, as well as his brother and sister-in-law, Brian and Debbie, and nephews, Michael and Peter, also came over. It made Jenny and Andy’s day that they were all there. Mike was an usher and wore a kilt – he is Darrin’s double! Jenny had her best friends, Sarah and Lisa, as beautiful bridesmaids and Andy’s brother, James, was Best Man, with his other brother, Robert, an usher. Another of her good friends, Nicole, came over from Dublin (with her family) to be an usher. So many people had travelled great distances to come along and celebrate such a special day.

The two newlyweds went off to Egypt (a dream place for Jenny for many years and a big surprise for her) and had a wonderful time. In the summer they also went off to Canada, visiting friends and family, and they especially enjoyed spending time with our Aunt, Uncle and cousins in Hamilton, Ontario.

In the summer we went off to Devon for a holiday, taking Tess the dog – this was a first as she doesn’t travel well! We had a good time, but I’m not sure we would take her that far again!

Another happy event which happened was that we found a home for my Dad’s Opel Manta which was 30 years old and his pride and joy. It had come straight from the Motor Show and was the first car of its kind in the South of Scotland. He had kept it in pristine condition but it had been sitting in their garage for almost 7 years and had deteriorated. It still looked very beautiful but needed a lot of work. I advertised on The Opel Manta Owners Club and there was a lot of interest. However, I found a very special owner who is going to restore it exactly as it was and who won’t part with it – he had restored his Dad’s and Grandfather’s old cars, so he understood my sentimental attachment. He came up to collect it in June and has kept in touch to let us know how it is doing. He has named it John in honour of my Dad. He also wrote an article on it for the magazine, Manta Magic. We are also going to have an exact model made of it, and my friend Debbie took a huge amount of photos so the model maker has it from every angle!

Our worst low was in October when we received a phone call to say that Darrin’s Mum, Marcia, had died very suddenly. This was a great shock and we are all devastated by it. We are just so grateful that she was over in April for the Wedding and got to be the proud Grandmother. We also spent a nice time after the Wedding with all of Darrin’s family, and he and I spent a happy few days alone with Marcia and Doug in the Lake District. Darrin, Jenny, Andy and I went over to the U.S. for her memorial service. Her sister, Kathy, and her niece, Tambi, both came over from Washington State and it helped us a lot being with them as well as our immediate family. Marcia and Doug were to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary in December and Darrin and I were going over to celebrate with them. We are still going over but it will be different. Thankfully the two of them were just back from a cruise as part of their celebration. We still can’t believe she has gone. She was a very special lady.

Jenny and Andy moved house in October. My Mum had left them quite a lot of money which she wanted them to use to help them buy a house. They have moved into a beautiful 3 bedroomed bungalow, with a gorgeous open plan kitchen, dining room and conservatory (my favourite part!). It is 5 years old and has good sized rooms and a big garden. I’m sure they will be very happy there. We also decided that, for the time being, we would rent out Mum’s house rather than sell. We have a nice young newly qualified teacher staying there.

Animal-wise, we have also had some dramas. Angel, one of the baby bunnies, died suddenly in February; Clara, one of our older bunnies, had teeth problems which resulted in an abscess which went behind her eye – we had her at a specialist hospital in Newcastle, but they could do no more for her; Gizmo, our other elderly bunny, also had teeth problems (it is very common) and an abscess, resulting in operations and is doing well; Tansy, our elderly puss, had a mouth virus and a mammary tumour removed and is going well; Meggie had laminitis so has to wear a grazing muzzle when she is at grass and continues to watch her weight – I have been riding gradually again after my fall in January which also helps as well as her being in a stable all day and only out at night – and is doing well. Coffee, our elderly gerbil, sadly died in the summer and we added three sweet new ones to our family – Paris, Prince and Blanket (The Jackson Three!).

So, one way and another, it has been an eventful year. We still miss my Mum very much but we are coping. It doesn’t get easier but we know that she and Dad are happy together and that is what matters. We are also finding Marcia’s sudden loss very difficult, especially Darrin. We are sure they will all have met up by now and be taking care of each other.

We hope this finds you and your family well. Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2010.

Take care,

Love Linda x

Sept. 2003

Five years ago this month in my journal...

 - Linda's Aunt Irene is in the hospital for an operation.

 - I'm a bit over-extended in "fantasy sports", playing eight at once...  including three sumo leagues, two football (soccer) leagues, an American football pool, and two fantasy Formula 1 racing leagues.

 - Andy and Jenny go to Cyprus for a holiday.

 - My website is not going as well as hoped.

We Love Black People

We started watching "Roots" (the TV miniseries) this weekend... I had bought the DVDs at Christmastime. I hadn't seen it in a long, long while... maybe once since it first came out in the late '70's... and I'll tell you, the stuff they showed about the treatment of the slaves is SHOCKING.

Anyway, so Linda and I started talking about how much she loves black people. So do I, but maybe not with as much fervor as she does...

And she told me why she loves them so...

One of her earliest and most precious memories was when she was around 4 years old (this would be in the late 1950's)... She was in Glasgow at the train station with her parents, Aunt Irene and Granny, waiting for a train, and she saw this tall black guy. There were very few black people in Scotland at that time, and she'd never seen one before.

I asked her to write me an email about it. She says:

"We both looked at each other and sort of 'connected'. Our eyes met and he smiled at me. I smiled back and was enchanted by him. Looking back I think we were probably both enchanted by the novelty of each other - he tall and dark, me small with long blond hair. I thought he was so nice, and hence all black people were nice!!!

I believe that that small chance encounter coloured my opinion of black people forever. I have often joked that I am almost 'racist' (not really as I strongly believe we are all equal) but in the totally opposite way to most! I have always adored black (or dark people) and I am sure it all started that day. I wonder if I had the same effect on him, or if he even remembers that day, and maybe has told other people about it the way I have over the years. It would be wonderful to think he did.

It is a beautiful memory, and one that I have always cherished."

Christmas Letter


Linda wrote a Christmas Letter...

Christmas 2006                  

Well, it’s that time again. This has been one of the busiest years in recent memory.



I hope this finds you all well and happy. We wish you the best of everything, both at Christmas and in 2007.


Take care,


Goodbye 2005

Good riddance to 2005. What a crap year. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis... and on a personal level, the whole ordeal with Linda's Aunt Irene being in the hospital all summer and then dying wasn't very pleasant. Let's hope 2006 is a better one.

I've been off work all week and I can't believe it's New Year's Eve already.... it went by way too quickly. I go back up to work on Wednesday. Grrr. It seems like I didn't accomplish much this week... didn't really go anywhere spectacular... just sort of cleaned up around the house, painted the bathroom ceiling, went to a couple gatherings of people for drinks and nibbles... watched a few new DVD's, looked at a few new books I got for Xmas... I think I would have rather had gone away somewhere for a few days... like down to Cumbria or something, but we didn't. oh well.

Tonight will just be a quiet night for Linda and I. We'll toast in the New Year at home in Dumfries.

Christmas Morning

Hello, dear readers, and Merry Christmas. We got up early today and opened our presents... Everyone got some. Linda, Jenny, me, Tess, Tansy, Sirius Black, Nala, the rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils, fish... Linda, as always, insisted we wrap all the presents for the animals. Tess, especially, gets excited at opening her presents. I got some nice books, CD's, DVD's, socks, etc. We're going out for our Christmas meal at Casa Mia a bit later on. Yesterday we visited Irene's grave and placed a plastic poinsetta.

Hard Work

Today was a very busy day... got up at the crack of 10, and then went to pick up my mother-in-law to go over to Irene's old place where we pulled up all the rugs in all the rooms... Hard work because there was still some large items of furniture in there so we had to move them around to get the rugs up...

Linda had a hair appointment and had made one for me too, to get a haircut there... so I went at 1:00 to get that done... Just a trim and to thin it out a bit.

Then it was back to my mother-in-law and we went to pick up the van she had arranged to get. We took the rugs and the underlay stuff to the Lochar Moss Tip (the town dump), then went back for more hard work. Note: Our horse Meggie was named after the Lochar Moss area (not the Tip, particularly, but we joke about that), as "Lochar Moss Melody" is her show name.

Back to Irene's where we were met by Linda and James (Jenny's boyfriend's brother). James and I loaded the van up with a bed, furniture and other large items my mother-in-law wanted brought back to her house...

After a trip across town and unloading that, we went back for even MORE hard work, and loaded the van with the furniture they wanted to donate to a local charity furniture store.

Whew. So after loading and unloading that, we drove the van to our house where we unloaded a few things that Linda wanted (a little fridge and an old (antique?) record player console thingy which she thinks we should sell on eBay. Don't know if it's worth anything... all I know is that it was HEAVY.

Then it was a mad dash to return the van in time... then TWO more trips to the Lochar Moss Tip using my car because my mother-in-law had forgotten to tell us to load a few rugs from before.

ANYWAY... Lots of hard work, I tell you. Good thing I've been working out.


We spent part of the day moving stuff out of Irene's house. Linda and her mother were on edge... arguing about little things. Jenny and her boyfriend Andy were also there helping... so me and Andy moved the heavy things while the others moaned at each other.

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