Sunday 30th July 2023

I may as well confess right now that (at best) I’m now a week behind with this Diary entry.

That has come about as a result of the “domestic mayhem” that ensued while my loving daughter decanted her life into my garage - and onwards into other rooms in the house.

The upside of the above was of course that Jade spent just over a week based here, allowing a memorable chunk of quality time: it’s going to be a good while before she is back here again.

I was therefore intent on maximising this relatively short period of time while she was here in Dunbar. Even though there was a host of administrative tasks that Jade had to complete, prior to her departure to Vietnam – in addition to bidding goodbye to several of her close friends here in Scotland – we managed to spend a surprisingly good chunk of time together.

Jade departed for Vietnam on Wednesday past, 2nd August (at the risk of confusing you – as easily as I confuse myself – I’m actually composing this entry on Monday 7th August, right now) and therefore the past few days have been allocated for returning my house to some semblance of order. Disconcertingly, I have endured several “flashbacks” while working my way through the clear-up process: fleeting reminders of her whirlwind stay here – be it a favourite t-shirt she left by mistake; cabinet drawers unclosed – even the odd cosmetic mark (not convincingly rubbed at, to disguise its original presence). You get the gist of this, yah?

My reality check starts here! Top of the list are a few select (business) phone calls to attempt to ascertain what work may be out there for me, between now and the end of the year. If nothing else, this will allow me the opportunity to schedule the best time to visit Jade in Vietnam – which I would certainly like to accomplish before Christmas. Depending upon how long I actually remain on this mortal coil (and where is the person that can conclusively answer that for me?!) I have saved enough to see me through the next ten years of a modest lifestyle.

That being the case, why give up (say) another summer to go out on the road, for example, overseeing the complexities – especially relating to continental Europe, post Brexit – of a full-on arena tour? Realistically, I probably have fifteen summers left in my life, at a push: so, I’m understandably reticent to give any of those away “cheaply”. Much food for thought will ensue.

On an enlightening note, the football season (in relation to my local team, Dunbar United FC) kicked off the league campaign yesterday, 29th July. We managed a convincing 4-1 opening win over “Dundonald Bluebell”. Don’t we have some great names for some of the “junior” footballing sides here in Scotland? There’s another called “Jeanfield Swifts” playing in the same league.

Well, whad’ya know? I’m on the cusp of completing the first “late” entry: one down, one to go. By Wednesday of this (actual) current week, commencing 7th August, all will be kosher again with the Diary entries. All that remains for this week is to attach an accompanying track to the above meandering diatribe. Surely, we could do a lot worse than plump for “Lately” by the iconic Stevie Wonder. Not a tune that I’ve listened to very often – but definitely appropriate!

Sunday 23rd July 2023

I’m poised today to welcome my daughter (temporarily) back into my household, tomorrow.

Reason being that Jade is soon off to Southeast Asia to take up a two-year work contract and is therefore in the process – over the next forty-eight hours – of completely moving out of her current abode in Dalkeith, which she will duly be renting, in her extended absence.

Without question, it will be saddening to have her distanced halfway across the world again - however I may only have myself to “blame” for her adopting the travelling bug, from a relatively early age. I’ll certainly be making the best of having her in and around the place, over the next week or so – no doubt followed by a period of a few “dark” days once she’s gone!

I was about to attempt to lighten my mood (which, to be honest, isn’t in too bad a place at the moment) by passing comment on the fact that I continue to enjoy my first summer here in Dunbar, in the almost ten years since I relocated. However, to my mind, July has been something of a minor disappointment to date, weather wise, with several overcast and rain-spattered days “featured” over the last few weeks. It will be August in just over seven days!

All the while, several areas of mainland and southern Europe are experiencing seriously, health-threatening, extremes of heat. I am naturally not envious of those temperatures (anything above 25 degrees approaches discomfort, for me) however it is surely not too much to ask for those areas to “throw us a few degrees”, allowing us a small advance on our current 15 degrees?

As I review the anticipated conditions over the next week – by referring to the weather App installed on my phone – I see daily wind icons, and few sunny icons. Personally (although, of course, it’s no great hardship really) I just have to learn to deal with any inclement weather periods – as the majority of people do – with my “reward” coming in the shape of being fortunate enough to spend some time in sunnier climes, during the previously-identified UK Winter months. I reckon it’s only just over three months until I head away for my first trip.

On the “leisure” side of things, yesterday heralded the last of Dunbar United’s pre-season friendlies (to which they doggedly stuck to the task, to triumph 4-3) – with the league programme kicking off next Saturday, for real – with an opening home game here in Dunbar.

There is little doubt that my periphery involvement with our local football club has done no harm to my ever-expanding (albeit gradual) social circle here in the town: there’s a great bunch of caring people connected to the club’s weekly organisation – and only last night I headed into town with a few of them, for dinner and a couple of drinks, making for a memorable evening. It’s also most welcome that the centre of town is under twenty minutes’ walk from my home address. Yes, my expanding connections in/with Dunbar continue apace!

In fairness, I doubt the above progress would have been achieved had I not, indeed, based myself back here for the afore-mentioned summer period. With that in mind, I leave you this week – tune wise – with a summation of my mood, in the good hands of Mr. Junior Campbell ….

Sunday 16th July 2023

Another greyish Sunday: surely consistent summer weather is just around the corner?!

Here we are in the middle of July – but the weather over the first couple of weeks of the month has hardly been inspiring. Sure, there has been the odd sunshine-filled day – but (as this will be my first full summer spent based in Dunbar throughout) I originally anticipated generally warmer and sunnier weather over the three-month period of June through August.

In fairness, six weeks of the afore-mentioned period are still ahead of us – so hopefully during that time I’ll be composing an entry of the Diary, which will include the assertion “this is much more like it!”. As tempting as it might be – at the drop of a hat - to just jump on some “Last” 7/10 day package holiday, I wouldn’t want to encourage a trend within myself, that risks becoming habit forming. Quite apart from that – and in particular focussing on the fact that Jade leaves for a lengthy stay in Vietnam, in just over two weeks from now – it’s not a course of action that I could consider right now. Therefore, I’ll stop thinking about it!

Re the above musings, I must additionally remind myself that any (even relatively short) escape abroad during my planned seven months spent in the year back here in the UK, will only lessen the time I can spend out of the country in the (also planned – and more crucial) five winter months: being November through March – but I’m always still open to suggestions!

On one positive side, I can report that my social interaction – here, locally in the Dunbar area – are slowly on the increase, mainly as a result of my continuing involvement with (but on the periphery of) Dunbar United FC. Nevertheless, I’m cognisant of the fact I should avoid having my life revolve around the football club’s activities alone. However, not unlike countless others in my situation – and within my demographic – it takes considerable effort, application (and time) to widen one’s social activities, that will generally match up to one’s particular interests.

Alongside the above (and especially off the back of my recent annual “BUPA” medical examination – which flagged up a couple of minor health aspects that I require to address) I need to continue to look after myself, in the years ahead: without doubt - and in consideration of the fact that I am fortunate enough to have the time on my hands to be able to do so – my health should (now) register as my main priority. The undisputed reality of growing older?

With the above in mind, I’ll now be heading out on my bike far more regularly than has been the case in recent months. Walking alone (as I have recently been, professionally, advised) does not furnish me with the level of “cardio” that I should be aiming for, at my tender age.

In tandem with the gravity of the above affirmations, the sunshine has now made a belated appearance outside in the garden: in my case (as well you know, I believe) brightening weather makes for a brightening mood: things are starting to look up, folks! So let’s keep things on a positive note, as regards this week’s accompanying track. Here’s a wee upbeat tune that I stumbled across when perusing the legions of songs that I have managed to amass over the years. Mr Jackie Wilson with an old song that most of you will heard, called “Reet Petite”. XX

Sunday 9th July 2023

I’ve actually been sat here for a good five minutes wondering how to make a start this week.

Surely, even occasional “Diarists” such as myself must suffer a minor bout of writer’s block?

Therefore, in the absence of any focus on any particular subject, I’ll just surrender myself to the keyboard - not the musical one – and see where my ramblings take me: “why is that particularly different from several past entries?”, I can possibly hear some long-suffering readers question – a viewpoint to which I could possibly struggle to offer any real defence!

“Always look on the bright side of life” says the words of an old song (from somewhere) – and there could be worse standpoints from which to proceed – and proceed I shall. Yesterday, on the build-up to the serious start of the football season, our town’s local club – Dunbar United FC – staged their annual “Open Day”, allowing many of the town’s young, aspiring, footballers to come along and meet the players, collect some autographs – and witness a training session.

I arrived there about thirty minutes into the proceedings, to see that all had been going well and a fair handful of hopeful youngsters had managed to enjoy a photo opportunity with the first-team squad. All this bodes well for the future, especially as the “Under-20” team set-up was only introduced last year (from which – already – three of the lads are now established as part of the main squad). If the club can continue to nurture its young talent to the extent that at least two or three of the those lads can gravitate towards the first team, then (pardoning the pun) we are on to a “winner”. All in all, these are promising times for the club.

On a more personal front (and being in the very fortunate position of not having to chase work opportunities) I’m continuing with my quest to bring all outstanding domestic tasks up to date. I reached another notable milestone, in that respect – garden wise – by the completion of the “filling in” of my two small garden ponds (a feature of the garden design carried out by the previous owner): the management of said ponds – not helped, of course, by my lengthy absences in the past – has always been something of a bugbear, mainly resulting from all the shedding leaves each autumn (from overhanging trees in the adjacent – thankfully “protected” – woods) finding their way into said ponds and ending up as little more than odorous mulch.

Two tons of topsoil – and one ton of compost – later, the ponds are now close to being transformed into (almost maintenance free) “shrub beds”. That’ll do nicely for me, thanks!

I may (or possibly not) have mentioned that my daughter Jade is imminently returning to Vietnam to take up a contract of work, a result of which she will probably spend the final week based at my house, prior to her departure at the beginning of next month. Naturally, I relish that period of quality-time - in a lifetime way short of being around both my children.

Best I start to lift the mood here, and don’t dwell on those above musings! Which is possibly the opportunity to leave you with a track that invariably reminds me of raucous times spent Jade and Bradley. Step up Mr Stevie Wonder with “Signed, Sealed, Delivered – I’m Yours”. X

Sunday 2nd July 2023

A warm welcome to my “legions” of followers, as we significantly reach the turn of the year!

Here in Dunbar, this turnaround sees a promisingly sunny day – but, reportedly, a temperature high of “only” 16 degrees. Being Dunbar, of course, the breeze (and, more than occasionally, a healthy wind) is never too far away: but we don’t mind that – if/when it’s cooling down warmer weather.

So, what for me, for the second half of 2023? This could even transpire to be the first year (Covid aside) – in the last fifty-one - that I have not undertaken any paid work. I have already “lost” two tours over the last six months down to “circumstances beyond my control” (which you can read about in my “eventual” autobiography!) but am nevertheless hopeful of having some degree of involvement with the “JLS” UK and Ireland arena tour, later on this year.

Adhering to the much-proffered characterisation of the canny Scot, I have guarded my career earnings (well, those from my touring business, anyway!) carefully, with the result that – unless I live to beyond ninety years of age – my “budget of remaining life” decrees that further paid work is (thankfully) nowhere near the desperation stages. Conversely, even the fees earned from (say) a fifteen-date UK arena tour can underwrite my relatively frugal “lifestyle” for several months. On this particular tack, can I once again re-iterate: yes, I have in the past subjected my body to the sort of working-week hours (circa 100) that only an elephant could probably endure – however I’ve benefitted from a fair slice of luck that enabled me to have the opportunity to work those “suicidal” hours. That’s not easily forgotten.

It is also worth mentioning at this point that this extensive “downtime”, that I am currently enjoying, is enabling me to both accomplish a plethora of long-forgotten domestic tasks – as well as allowing me the crucial opportunity to enhance my social life (and community involvements) in and around Dunbar, an area I have no wish to vacate in the many years ahead.

Therefore, generally speaking, life is presently good as I pursue my (work-in-progress) aim of spending at least six months of the year, based back here in Scotland. My afore-mentioned “budget of remaining life” – as I will no doubt have previously referred to, in past versions of the Diary – is actually based on a 7/5 (UK/abroad) split, however I’ve recently begun to research the subject of foreign “house-sitting” - which may find me another “abroad month”.

Certain TV-weather gurus appear to be flagging up June this year, as the warmest (mean temperature wise) on record: however, I believe I’m in accord with two of my neighbours that I met for coffee earlier this week, whose similar opinions were “Yeah – maybe down south!”.

However, mustn’t complain. Although the average temperature has not peaked beyond 16 degrees during this past month, I’ve nevertheless spent more time outside, than I have in – and that’s a firm result in my book: let’s hope July can go “one better” – and that August can top the lot.

Eyeing the above sentiment, I leave you this week with a fairly obscure (yet, eminently listenable) track from the undisputed legend that is Ray Charles: “Ain’t That Fine”. Yes, it is!

Sunday 25th June 2023

If the truth be known ……… I’m actually penning this edition on Tuesday afternoon, 27th June.

I was away from the house for most of Sunday, on account of attending a little reunion of past musician buddies of mine, from as far back as the “mid-seventies”: a most enjoyable day.

The get-together was staged at the house of one of the lads (one time “Bilbo Baggins” drummer, Gordon “Fid” Liddle) in the Dunfermline area of Scotland, north of the River Forth.

The weather could have been a little kinder to the event, with a light drizzle literally putting a slight damper on things: however, Fid’s current band (a group of older muso pals, still doing it, for their mutual enjoyment) managed to work their way through a good half-dozen songs.

On approach to Fid’s house, I worked out that it was very close to fifty years since the last time I had seen him. Incredible that such an extensive period of time had passed - in between which time we had both accomplished a vast amount of progress in our respective careers. We dutifully promised each other we wouldn’t leave it so long, the next time, to meet up again!

Such occasions are sober reminders that none of us are getting any younger and that careful (and “selfish”) management of our personal time is key to our ongoing wellbeing. I’m currently negotiating a phase of my life, in respect of the various “regular” weekly activities I undertake, where I’m attempting to realistically gauge whether the benefit of each given “activity” merits the actual time allocated to it. Considerable food for thought has emerged!

Looking forward, the slow (yet rewarding) process of creating a low-maintenance domestic environment – particularly one that I can “desert” over the winter months, later this year – continues at a gently reassuring pace. Even my garden is now beginning to look like a garden!

Having said that, last week’s good weather has not - as yet – found its way into the current week with the result that the last two days have produced only overcast and wet conditions. Not that the general temperatures have suffered accordingly - demonstrated by the fact that my central heating remains shut down. I trust this inclement phase will be short-lived.

As I continue to “live the life of Riley”, I do occasionally ponder when I will next be involved in any sort of work-related project. Obviously, I’m not overly concerned in regard to this current state of affairs (unlike I would have been if this was thirty years ago) especially as it is enabling me to turn my hand to a plethora of domestic/office housekeeping tasks that I would otherwise have been unlikely to pay attention to. Essentially: unpaid progress continues!

These past few days (having finally managed to get my exterior disc drive to function) I have begun to load an extensive selection of my physical CD selection onto my laptop’s hard drive. In doing so, I have been reminded of many knockout tracks that had slipped forward from the (dark?) recesses of my memory. Today I leave you with one of those “latent” gems. Step forward the inimitable Hurricane Smith with the classic “Don’t Let it Die”. And please don’t!

Sunday 18th June 2023

What a fab result for Scotland’s international football team last night – beating Norway 2-1!

I – along with the vast majority of Scotland fans (in spite of their continually-devoted, often-unrealistic, optimism) – did not see that coming! What made the victory all the more sweeter (nail-biting?) was that Scotland came from one goal down, to clinch the victory - with only six minutes of the game remaining. This, after putting Spain “to the sword” also, earlier this year.

Even though there are still five games left to play in their current group (featuring Spain, Georgia, Cyprus and Norway) the signs are increasingly positive for Scotland to make it through to the final stages of these European Championships, staged in Germany next year: the next step to achieving that would be to beat Georgia, in Scotland, this coming Tuesday.

With no ongoing work projects it makes much sense (as I’m sure many of my contemporaries would agree) to adhere to the framework of a weekly schedule: not that every hour should be marked out in advance, rather a general schedule of what each day’s involvement is mostly geared towards – which, in my case, only includes the time prior to the 1.00 pm daily TV news.

Especially during the summer months, if one has put oneself to good use in the mornings – be it domestically or administrationally orientated then one needs to be outside in the afternoon.

Interruption here: as is usually the case, on Sunday mornings when composing these entries, I have the “nostalgic” radio station “Gold” on in the background. David Andrews, who hosts the Sunday morning programme, has just played the Cat Stevens track “Father and Son”. If you have ever closely listened to the lyrics, you will (or you may) understand why that song always tends to stop me dead in my tracks. For sure, it will be this week’s accompanying track!

I’m back with you now - to pick up the afore-mentioned thread of my general weekly schedule – and to mention that I also have certain “weekly milestones” that positively assist to shape my overall time management: those being my Tuesday and Friday morning local-community walks, in conjunction with my “Sporting Memories” meeting on a Thursday morning. Those three commitments have defined that Monday morning is devoted to general domestic admin – and conversely – with Friday morning laid aside for a “weekly clear-up”. I omitted to mention that Wednesday (for the time being) is my “outdoor maintenance” day – which will switch over to internal maintenance tasks once I have finished my (very!) basic remodelling of the garden.

It has occurred to me – in some sort of organisational respect – that I seem to be working towards a point where I will have completed the “winter-isation” of the house by the end of September, prior to me heading off to warmer climes for the first part of the UK winter (that being November and December). This (work-in-progress) plan allows me the “safety” month of October, to tie up all loose ends. I should surely be in a “good place” come that point.

As indicated a few paragraphs back – and on something of a reflective note – I’m going with Cat Stevens for this week’s accompanying track, especially for all the fathers out there! XX

Sunday 11th June 2023

Today we reach the end of possibly the best week of the year, in respect of the weather.

At least three or four sunny and warm days have transpired since the last time we ”spoke”, therefore it’s only natural that we (well, all of us here in this quaint old fishing town of Dunbar!) must feel confident about this continuing. “Sunny Dunny” needs to live up to its name!

Being that the football is currently in “close season” mode (“friendly” games start up again on 2nd July) I found myself having to adjust my Saturday schedule, from last week onwards: not a bad thing at all. As much as I (obviously) enjoy the involvement of the football season, I am nevertheless conscious of the need not to allow my ongoing world to exclusively revolve around said (community) involvement with the game - especially at this local level with Dunbar United.

However – it’s fair to say – my attachment to my local club, and several of its associated events, has certainly done no harm to my social life: a “work in progress” which will surely render some benefits throughout the summer months. This week, I’ll make a point of visiting the local library – to peruse their local information board, to ascertain what other activities are taking place over the coming months (and in which I could possibly have an involvement).

Actually, on that point, yesterday commenced Dunbar’s “Civic Week” – an information pamphlet for which I have sat on my office desk upstairs: so, I’ll be taking that with me today.

Apparently (which I would have been aware of, had I already perused the afore-mentioned pamphlet) the festivities commenced yesterday with some form of parade down Dunbar’s High Street - therefore there is no faulting the community intentions of the events’ organisers.

Otherwise, as far as the rest of my life currently goes, things are ticking along nicely – aided and welcomed by the upsurge in temperatures and blue skies, of late. Yesterday – in preparation for my daughter seeking some storage space – I tackled “Phase 1” of my garage re-organisation, initiated by spreading boxes and other items of “unused” paraphernalia all over the driveway. With the result that several of those items have found their way to the local charity shop. That was long overdue: it just required some disciplined decision-making.

I may have mentioned at one point that it was always my intention, from the minute I moved into this property, to steer clear of using the (unfloored) loft space as an overflow-storage option: figuring (correctly) that if there’s more than fits in the garage, then there’s too much.

You show me a housebuilder that includes an integral garage nowadays that would enable you to open both car front doors, simultaneously, to allow a comfortable exit for both occupants – and I’ll show you a very unusual (and considerate?) company. Garages are for conversions!

What track to leave you with, this week? Being that this is (continually?) something of a transitional period over the next month, I’m going to plump for an iconic Davie Bowie track (“Changes”) from way back in the early seventies, to now assist me in these “twenties”. XX

Sunday 4th June 2023

Finally, the month of June arrives – and with it the onset of summer (and warmer) weather.

Yes, May was anything but a complete washout, but it was inconsistent on the climate front.

In my mind, we should now have (at least) three months of warmer days ahead of us – sitting at around average daily temperatures of 16 degrees, having researched this is a little. Added to this, up until 21st June, the nights remain incrementally “lighter” – therefore these current days are there to be treasured: the intention must be to maximise the time spent outside.

Now that the football season has drawn to a close (the typical pre-season friendly games, prior to the new campaign, do not commence until early July) I will allow myself time to reflect upon whether there is an alternative – or additional - “anchor” to my life going forward, rather than just the football calendar. Enjoyable as my regular involvement with football has become (centred nowadays more around my local club, Dunbar United FC, rather than my lifelong support of the Premier League team “Hearts”), I need to seek out an increasing variety of local social involvements. I don’t articulate that sentiment greatly, but I do know what I mean!

The overall determination is to introduce a low-maintenance outlook to certain facets of my “life-schedule”, from here on in: the intention being to continue to free up time that I can use for the things I want to do – rather than the things that (currently) I “have” to do. A prime example of the afore mentioned is the garden: I need to markedly reduce the hours spent keeping it groomed and tidy, to then enable me to spend that time just sitting in said garden!The house itself – as I have alluded to on a few previous occasions – just requires several hours of cosmetic “TLC”, to bring it back up to spec. By no means whatsoever, is there any element of an uncomfortable existence, while living here: having said that, there are a few outstanding “priority tweaks” that require to be undertaken, that will certainly contribute to a more relaxed living space – and will, additionally, bring no harm to the value of the property.

For whatever reasons (work; vacations; being based out in Cyprus, when Alice worked there) I can’t recall – but will nevertheless check back, if only to satisfy my own curiosity – having spent a “complete summer” based back here in Dunbar, in the ten years that I’ve stayed here.

As I have made (repeated?!) mention of, in past editions of The Diary, my current, annual, plan revolves around spending five months – November through March - out of the country and the remaining seven months back in the UK. Such an arrangement adheres to some realistic “life budget” figures that I compiled a good few years back and, going forward (if I’m able to eke out another month out of the country: say two weeks in both October and April) I could realistically see that arrangement being modified more towards a “6/6” format.

Tailing off these jumbled thoughts (more clarification to follow next week), I will leave you with an accompanying track that possibly only tenuously summarises the mood: the iconic Four Tops with “Shake Me, Wake Me” – bearing some reference to my current state of mind. XX

Sunday 28th May 2023

Can I state right now that this week’s Diary edition will be very heavily football orientated!

However, dear (long-suffering) readers, not without justifiable cause: our local football team, Dunbar United FC, managed to win The East of Scotland First Division, in the 91st minute of yesterday’s final, nerve-shredding, game of the season: certainly a day I’ll never forget!

Prior to kick-off yesterday, four teams in the current First Division had already attained enough points to ensure their collective promotion (the fifth-place team, Newtongrange Star, were six points adrift of fourth position – so it just came down to the top four clubs). With only three points separating the afore-mentioned four teams, the remaining, coveted, honour - of also finishing as Division champions - was within the reach of any of them, come 4.15 pm.

Dunbar United found themselves 1-0 down at half time, having missed the first of three penalties (more about that to come) with the Captain having headed against the opposition crossbar – and the very same Captain (Grant Thomson) managing a dramatic goal-line clearance. A rather nervy second half beckoned – and it was not long before (wait for it!) Sean Stewart, our tricky little wide player, crashed a second penalty against the Camelon Juniors crossbar. By now, the majority of the “season-record” crowd had their hearts in their mouths.

Midway through the second half Dunbar’s Manager made what proved to be an inspired double substitution, particularly in the case of our tall centre-forward, Cameron (Cammie) Dawson who – within minutes of coming off the bench - managed to steer a well-placed header past Camelon’s tall goalkeeper. Game on, with only six and a half minutes of regulation time to play!

With the (continually relayed) knowledge that two of the remaining three “top four” teams were already winning their games, a full-time draw for us, was not going to be decisive enough for us to clinch the top spot, as Division Champions. This was now all edge-of-the-seat stuff!

When the record home crowd had all but resigned themselves to the inevitability that this was just not going to be our day, Dunbar United were awarded a third penalty, two minutes into injury time. Who was going to be brave enough to step up to take the penalty, with pretty much the last kick of the ball? In the face of such immense pressure, striker Cammie Dawson shoulders that huge responsibility and (YES!) slots the ball away to make it 2-1! Sensational!

Within just over a minute of the re-start, the referee blew for full time – and it was all over!

Rarely in all the years I have followed my “big” team, the Edinburgh club Heart of Midlothian (“Hearts”) – possibly with the exception of the 1989 cup final win against Glasgow Rangers – have I experienced such a range of emotions, at any one football game: an absolute fairy tale.

The club had actually asked me last week if I would be good enough to compile a playlist for the post-game celebrations, therefore I’m going to leave you this week with one of the more poignant tracks from that playlist: Queen – and “Those Are The Days of our Lives”. Yes indeed!

Sunday 21st May 2023

I was suddenly struck there with the thought that maybe I’ve run out of “things to say”.

That’s, surely, bound to be a situation that occasionally confronts many regular columnists.

This particular (minor!) “dip” that I’m experiencing this morning has emanated from something of a rollercoaster day yesterday: and – typically – I can’t pinpoint the exact “trigger point”.

I travelled up to Edinburgh, just after lunchtime yesterday, to support our local team Dunbar United FC, in their penultimate game of the season - versus Leith Athletic. Unfortunately, the team managed only a 1-1 draw therefore (as many of the club’s supporters “feared”) it all comes down to the last game of the season, next Saturday, as to whether the club can actually finish the season as First Division League Champions, in addition to already being promoted.

Nothing less than an outright win will do the job (although, technically, if the top four teams all lose their final games then Dunbar will be Champions – as they currently sit one point clear at the top of the league, with only the final game to come). We’ll all know, this time next week!

Otherwise, after enjoying a couple of beers with my fellow supporters after the game before returning from Edinburgh (on the local bus, I might add), I alighted in the centre of town to “canvas” a couple of the local bars, with a view to arranging a little get-together with a small group of Dunbar United’s older fans - that I fairly regularly attend the games with - later next week: just as a wee celebration of the club’s notable achievement, over this past season.

Much as though I’ve enjoyed my (almost) ten years living here in Dunbar, the level of weekend entertainment on offer for my general demographic is (in my opinion) definitely lacking.

Or is it just the case that such “outgoing” individuals within the town’s (ever-expanding) population are actually thinner on the ground, than I’m willing to accept? I’m convinced that’s not the case: but unless I step up to the plate with a plan to offer a level of entertainment to such a demographic, I may never find out. Or should I just go off on holiday to Thailand?!

On the weather “front” (because, here in the UK, the subject of the weather can always be relied upon to be a regular talking point) the daily average temperatures certainly appear to be creeping towards the 15 degree mark. For me, the more time I can spend outside, the better. I’ve also re-inflated my bike’s tyres with the intention of re-instating my summer cycling routine – at least throughout the months of June, July and August. Providing that I’m around.

My methodical plan to cosmetically improve the house and garden is coming along nicely, most noticeably – this past week – with the re-staining of the small summerhouse (now looking good).

So, at the end of something of a “mixed” week, I’ll try to leave you with a relevant accompanying track to summarise (but lift!) the mood – looking positively forward. Step forward the iconic Curtis Mayfield with “Move On Up”: both for me and Dunbar FC. Lovin’ Ya!

Sunday 14th May 2023

It is safe to say that this past week has been measurably less hectic than the previous one.

However, that raises the subject of whether (particularly for a guy in my situation) a reasonable level of “busy-ness” is maybe not a bad thing: the key word, as always, is BALANCE – and that continues to be a work in progress. Recognising the need for such, is half the battle.

Predicting a fairly extensive period now being spent at home base (very likely through the end of October – although possibly with a “cheapo” one-week escape thrown in around late July) the emphasis is on bringing the house “up to spec”, mainly in respect of certain cosmetic jobs.

I love this little three-bedroomed house, but I have no aspirations (for example) to upgrade the kitchen or re-model the garden: I would much rather use such funds to give me the opportunity to travel – especially as I am able to do so, regularly, on a relatively frugal basis.

Certainly, by the end of June, most of the required remedial work will be completed; the summerhouse should have had a facelift – and the garden with be in a “monthly-manageable” state: because what’s the point of a garden if you can’t spend time enjoying its environment?

Just to change the subject a little (and bearing some relation to the last two paragraphs) it has slowly dawned upon me – in the quest to eke out more “me time” – that, even though I have no work projects scheduled for the immediate future, I sense my domestic life is more “cluttered” than I would ideally like. Therefore (and I won’t put such a plan into action until the cosmetic work on the house is completed) I may have to tweak my current weekly schedule, to where it allows me more time to carefully prioritise what matters most to me.

Regular readers will already know the importance, to me, of being able to be outside as often as possible – ideally to benefit from light and gentle warmth: I’m far from alone with finding comfort in such conditions. However, I’m most fortunate that I have the wherewithal to enable me to escape the winter months – and to “hole up” in gentler environments, during that period (I’m currently giving the month of May the benefit of the doubt, in the hope that better – more consistently warmer – days will be with us before the 31st of the month).

In my (convoluted) head, the actual summer months are represented by June, July, and August. I must therefore believe that those three months will come through for me, in what will probably prove to be the first full summer I have spent back here in Dunbar in the (almost) ten years I have lived here. Ten years this coming December! I’m sitting here amazed by that.

In something of a departure from my normal procedure of selecting the weekly accompanying track according to the title (and usually bearing some relation to that same week’s waffling) I’m actually going to relate part of this week’s musings – specifically pertaining to my almost ten-year stay in Dunbar – to the “singer” rather than the song. On that basis I leave you with one of the great British blues bands of the early 70’s, “Ten Years After” (do you see what I’m on about now?) and a track that takes me right back to my DJ days: “Love Like A Man”. X

Sunday 7th May 2023

I think it’s fair to say that this has probably been my most eventful week for many a month.

Initially, I cite the above off the back of my daughter Jade being married earlier in the week – Thursday past, specifically. A modest affair, as per Jade and her partners’ wishes, conducted within The City Chambers in Edinburgh – with a total of only eight guests, including the happy couple! I’ve never understood (or personally agreed with) the practice of lavishing significant amounts of money on large wedding occasions: but - of course - each to their own.

To some degree, I’m still trying to take it all in: I guess I had assumed, with Jade having been with her partner now for nigh on ten years, that a marriage event might never have transpired.

One of the distinct advantages of the present-day proliferation of camera phones is that such an occasion as a “closed-circuit” marriage ceremony, produces a whole collective hatful of different shots from all of the guests in attendance. So, we now have a stack of memories!

The newly married couple elected to delay their “honeymoon” for the present time, as they both have substantial work commitments. However, the small wedding party nevertheless visited a notable, “newish” Edinburgh city-centre restaurant (“Noto”) to while away the early-evening hours, enjoying an impressive array of food and wine. A fab evening was had by all – and I was still able to catch the last train back to Dunbar, from Edinburgh’s Waverley station.

Yesterday, I walked down to Dunbar United’s local home ground (“New Countess Park”) to take in our third-last game of the season, against the number two team in the league, Glenrothes FC (Dunbar are still sitting in pole position). However when we really needed all three points to ensure our march to promotion to the East of Scotland Premier Division, we only managed a 1-1 draw. Consequently, we have pressured ourselves into requiring no less an accomplishment than two outright wins in the remaining two fixtures. This is now going right down to the wire!

As a result of the above situation, I’ll certainly be going nowhere before the end of this month. Not that I have any “flight-involving” travel plans in the offing: rather, during May, I might then take the opportunity to make the trip down south to visit a few people that I should have re-visited long before now. They – like myself – are not becoming any younger.

With the end of the local football season and my daughter’s wedding both taking place during the month of May, I have elected to then take a fresh look at how I’m going to spend the upcoming “summer months” (specifically June, July & August) – which I now anticipate will evolve into a revised weekly schedule, retaining certain elements of the current schedule.

However, the smart move is to efficiently use the next three weeks’ time, while I am waiting out the culmination of the local football season, to strike a plethora of minor domestic tasks, from my one-time burgeoning to-do list. With that point in mind, this week’s accompanying track comes from the iconic seventies band, “Badfinger” with “No Matter What” because, within reason, I’m going to have that current to-do list reduced this month. Loving y’all. XX

Sunday 30th April 2023

Today may go down as one of the more reflective Sundays in my time, being that last Monday saw the passing of the Production Manager that I worked with on Oasis (albeit over twenty years ago): Michael O’Connor. I may have mentioned, in one or two past versions of The Diary, that, along with two of my fellow touring professionals (Rebecca Travis and Doe Phillips) I was regularly involved with a Wednesday “Zoom” call, with Michael being the focus of those calls.

During the “earlier” Zoom calls, Michael was very engaged with the conversations although, sadly (and over the year of staging these calls) the slow deterioration of Michael’s condition could not go unnoticed. Over the last three months, it became increasingly difficult for him to take an “active” part in the online discussions, with his obvious difficultly with clear speech.

On Wednesday past, Rebecca and I flew out to Dublin to attend the occasion of Michael’s burial ceremony in County Wexford, in a woodland location – of Michael’s particular choosing.

A very sobering occasion indeed - gathered around the burial site - in the company of Michael’s close and wider family: as well as an impressive smattering of notable industry professionals.

I just paused there, for a few minutes, to ponder that Michael is actually no longer with us – which will absolutely be the case for all of us, at some future point. Sobering thoughts indeed.

On another front, I’ve had better Sundays, where the world of football is concerned. Let me explain further: my local team, Dunbar United FC, are stumbling – rather than strutting – towards the reality of promotion to the East of Scotland Premier Division. While we currently sit atop the East of Scotland First Division (but only two points “clear”), several of the teams below us still have “games in hand” over us. This all makes for a nervy end-of-season period.

Next week is a particularly big weekend for Dunbar United FC, as we have a home game against the number two team, Glenrothes FC. Anything less than a win will certainly signify our inability to finish the season as division champions. While that title has a certain gloss and kudos to it, the emphasis remains on promotion from that same division - an accomplishment that will befall the top three teams. The confirmation of those may go right down to the wire.

Coincidentally, this coming Saturday, 6th May, also sees the annual staging of Dunbar United FC’s “Ladies Day” (not forgetting the coronation of King Charles that same day!). Let us hope it does indeed transpire to be a memorable day for all the right reasons: especially for DUFC!

As the first day of May beckons within the next twenty-four hours, I can reflect that – as part of my “annual whereabouts plan” – April (with average daily temperatures struggling to stay above the 10 degrees mark) has been “tolerable”, weather wise: May will surely improve!

Keeping Michael central to my thoughts, I want to choose an accompanying track this week that pays homage to his life, and the memorable times I worked with him. Choosing carefully, I’ve opted for “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles, which I trust is self-explanatory. XX

Sunday 23rd April 2023

Good morning from a grey and overcast Dunbar – with a few cold days on the way, next week.

Seven degrees Centigrade for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, to be exact – or to be as “exact” as weather projections can be. Surely, soon (from 1st May onwards? well that’s what I’m telling myself) the daily average temperatures – in the main part of the day anyway – will no longer dip below the 10 degree mark. Here, in “Sunny Dunny” we’re assured of many bright days!

Otherwise, on a more personal level, my “non-touring/non-holiday” weekly schedule progresses apace. Once again – but for the last time I can assure you, folks – I emptied (think “baled out”) my two small – otherwise neglected - garden ponds: this as a significant step towards a maintenance-free garden. Of course, the weeding and grass-cutting will always be ongoing.

Keeping in mind that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, I know the future good weather will allow me sufficient days out in the garden, to achieve the above situation - over the upcoming summer months. That should even allow me sufficient time to re-stain my wee summerhouse.

I may never have mentioned in the past that – as a result of my extensive criss-crossing of the globe (albeit the majority of which was undertaken between 2000 and 2015) – I actually possess two UK passports: this is not uncommon within the ranks of many of my fellow professional touring colleagues. It so happens that both of these passports run out prior to the end of this year, therefore – knowing that I’m going to be around here at home base (or certainly not leaving the UK shores) in the upcoming months – I’ve sent both away for renewal.

To be honest, the requirement of a second passport at this stage of my career is not overly crucial: however, carrying such an item (secreted separately in one’s luggage, of course) certainly saves any hassle, should one ever lose – for whatever reason – one’s main passport.

Having said the above, with the “recent” advent of “Brexit” – and the associated limits on the time UK residents can spend annually, within the European Union countries – I foresee the tightening of the regulations relating UK second passport holders. Let’s see if both of my (new) passports find their way back to me. Realistically, I can manage easily with just the one.

Otherwise, in my somewhat currently sedentary existence, things are trundling along quite nicely – although I would like to have seen my local club, Dunbar United FC, achieve more than a goalless draw yesterday. We are crawling towards promotion – when we should be marching.

Of course, the undoubted “fairy tale” of the weekend in the world of football, is the promotion of the Welsh club, Wrexham FC, back into the ranks of the senior leagues in English football. If you have read about – or are aware of - the circumstances, then you’ll be suitably impressed!

Actually, let’s see if we can’t link the said Wrexham’s incredible achievement to this week’s accompanying track. I’ve just had a little trawl through my music library and have this catchy tune to offer you, this weekend: Phil Collins with “Another Day in Paradise”. Indeed it was! X

Sunday 16th April 2023

Your intrepid author allowed his tried and tested schedule to deviate today, by leaving the penning of the Diary entry until this evening (now) rather than being my first task of the day.

Being this age, and in conjunction with my reticence to take on any touring work – unless I can be sure it will turn out to be an enjoyable experience (I waited a long, long, time to be in such an advantageous position!) - I subsequently have a fair bit of time on my hands, nowadays.

All the more crucial, therefore, that I stick to the framework of a workable schedule, when based back here in the UK. Just thinking that I could delay the composition of this week’s entry until this point in the evening (currently 7.25 pm) has only resulted in completely “throwing my day out”. I am however, now, committed to rectifying that situation prior to the end of the day, before zipping around to the local superstore for my weekly shop – which should be happening right now. No reason I can’t be perusing “Asda’s” aisles within the hour!

In having the TV evening news on in the background, as I made a start to this week’s entry, it caught my attention that yesterday was actually “Tartan Day” in New York today: an annual fixture in the Big Apple’s annual programme of events, attended by crowds in the thousands.

Many of the long-term Bay City Rollers fans will feature as part of the procession and it is indeed impressive that group of (mainly) ladies take all the trouble to keep the (tartan) flag flying. Over the years I have come to know – and correspond with – several key members of their legion and I never fail to marvel at their dedication to the cause, as they repeatedly congregate in New York, from all corners of United States of America to all meet up together.

If my holiday/break times had worked out more conveniently, I was of a mind to make the trip this year: although I’m reminded that New York is hardly the most inexpensive of cities. Maybe I could tie it in next year with (as I believe I mentioned last week) a “Route 66” trip?

The above would of course require some fairly audacious planning on my behalf - and would probably involve me spending around two months in The States: such a project requires careful logistical planning. There again, that falls right into the arena of my field of expertise!

As well my regular readers know, I have always identified as having some ethereal (maybe not the right word) association with the US, certainly endorsed by the amount of time I have spent working there. Not forgetting some very memorable holidays with the children there.

However, Father Time marches on - with little respite - therefore I need to keep that train of thought fairly foremost in my mind and prioritise my travel plans over the next few years. The opportunity to do so will rarely present itself so fortuitously as within the upcoming five-month period, when I am based back here in the UK – with no foreseeable work in the calendar.

Just enough time to squeeze in a track by a recently discovered lady called Martha Velez. Give a listen to this rather bluesy (surprised?) track called “A Fool For You”. Missing you all!

Sunday 9th April 2023

I come to you today in my (now) 71st year - the last twelve months seeming to have “flown in”.

I’m going to undertake a little research in respect of the above – if only to slow the process this next year! Oddly enough, having just returned from my three-week break in Cyprus (where I stayed in three different locations on the island during my time there) I was definitely aware that the week spent in the quietest location of the three – that being Latchi, on the north-west corner of the country – seemed to pass the slowest: so, I’ll be adding that little observation to “The Google Queue”. Any opportunity to slow the onward match of time.

The plan is now to spend several months back here in the UK for the foreseeable future: with longer days and (slightly!) increasingly upward temperatures, the end of March should have certainly put paid to any vestiges of winter. My “Life Budget” currently allows for five months from any one year spent abroad: over the last “experimental” twenty-four months, those five months in question have essentially come down to November through March. Of course, were any work commitments to encroach upon that “blocked” period, then I could adjust my out-of-the-country months accordingly. The above plan, by a process of deduction, points to a consecutive (ambitious?) seven months spent, based out of the UK (April through October).

In any given, annual, twelve-month period I would – probably - personally find it difficult not to give vent to an odd case of itchy feet. However, do keep in mind that nowadays I can generally go somewhere at the drop of a hat, were the occasional “package deal” to become available: nevertheless, I have to face up to the fact that if I don’t adhere, more or less, to my personal budget calculations, that indeed could (admittedly, fairly far down the line) usher in something of a precarious situation. The last thing any of us want to do is run out of money.

In summary, in relation to the above paragraphs, there is now ample opportunity for me to be pushing on with carefully crystallising all of the above, as any unforeseen errors leave less time for correction, as time rumbles on. Awareness of what needs fixed is the first step!

One of the advantages of being back in my local area is of course the opportunity to catch up on the fortunes of my local football team, Dunbar United FC. This I did, energetically, yesterday – by travelling up to the small village of Luncarty in the district of Fife, just over a ninety-minute drive from “Sunny Dunny”. As it happened – as is occasionally the case – the club decided to “run a bus” to the game: however, as I had planned to have an early lunch with my daughter Jade in Edinburgh, I ended up driving myself to the game. The good news is that (because of my appearance for the first time in three weeks?!) the team “finally” won their first game in a month yesterday. Let’s sincerely hope that is them now back to winning ways.

Tomorrow commences the first week of the rest of my life, so it’s time to push on with it – to continue to manage my time, to the end of making the time for the aspects of life that matter and that give the best return (obviously keeping health to the fore). To endorse that line of thinking, this week’s accompanying track emerges in the form of the inimitable voice of Heather Small with (a “repeat” I’m sure) “Moving On Up”: both myself and Dunbar United!

Sunday 2nd April 2023

“Stuck in the Med with you”. What great song title! Nah, hasn’t someone done that before?

So, yes, for a third week running, I come to you from one of my favourite islands: Cyprus of course. The weather has been somewhat changeable over the past week, but generally sunny or sunny/cloudy – with the exception of Tuesday past when the old “Med” was noticeably rough, with the associated winds cooling down the adjacent mainland to a “just-bearable” 13 degrees!

Otherwise, assisted by the clocks also going forward one hour, out here, the (longer) days have generally averaged 18 - 19 degrees – and it now looks like that will creep up slightly next week.

I am currently wrestling with something of a minor dilemma, in that a prospective job offer – that would have required me to be back in the UK this coming Thursday, 6th (flying out from here late on the night of the 5th) looks like it may now not transpire: not something – as has been the situation on several previous occasions – that I can share the detail of at this point, but will probably be able to divulge fully, on the occasion of my much-anticipated Autobiography. Of course, I’m not wholly confident of ever seeing that tome in publication!

Following on from the above (expanding upon the dilemma situation) the deadline for my involvement with the above-mentioned project falls at 5.00 pm UK time tomorrow, 7.00 pm out in Cyprus. So, it’s very simple: do I hang in here – relatively inexpensively - for another couple of weeks, or do I head back on Wednesday, as originally planned? Decisions, decisions.

Part of the reason for originally choosing my return date as Wednesday 5th, was that I did not want to miss the celebration associated with my local team, Dunbar United FC, attaining promotion from the EoSFL First Division to the lofty heights of the EoSFL Premier League.

Well, folks, I have to report that “The Seasiders” (DUFC’s nickname) promotional push has veered off the tracks somewhat, in the last three weeks – carefully (and ruefully) witnessed by your intrepid author, while out here – ably assisted by the club’s informative Twitter feed.

What does this now mean? It means – initially – that my prediction (that the above feat would be accomplished by the first week in April) currently lies strewn by the wayside, showing no signs of life. Realistically it could now be one month hence before we can twirl our black and white club scarfs in the seaside air – and, worryingly, that is far from a foregone conclusion.

So why not hang back here in Cyprus for another couple of weeks, especially with the weather “flattening out” now, to where the average daily temperature will now rarely fall below 20 degrees?

That answer comes (to me) at 7.00 pm tomorrow local time and to you (my faithful followers) at this same point, next week. Can’t be any more precise than that, right now. As this week’s entry draws to a close, my choice of accompanying track has been influenced by the very first paragraph, above: meaning that I’m going to accede to the actual track that I earlier b******ized – and leave you with Stealer’s Wheel and the “Stuck in the Middle With You” X

Sunday 26th March 2023

You will rarely find me more at ease when penning an addition of the Diary. Why? Because, as I sit here - having finished a leisurely hotel breakfast - the warmth of the sun is on my back!

Is there any greater sensation of relaxation, other than possibly waking – pre-breakfast - to observe Helen Mirren lounging on the hotel room balcony clad in only (yes!) THAT red bikini?

Anyway, back to reality: a place I’ve struggled to reach, on many previous, noted, occasions.

This is now my eleventh day out here and, since publishing last week’s edition, I have relocated to another of my favoured Cyprus locations: namely the Souli Beach Hotel in Latchi (or Latsi as the locals appear to pronounce it) on the north-western coast of the island. Dealing directly with the hotel - as I have now done on the last few occasions I’ve stayed here – I managed to secure a €50/night price, including breakfast, for a room with a bath and a shower (and a small fridge, which is welcome – but “noisy”) and a direct view of the North Mediterranean.

Sure, the water pressure is not what you might encounter at “The Hilton”; the room lighting can be “garish” at times (I’m able to counter that with innovative use of a hand towel!); the fridge has to be switched off overnight (for reasons as already stated) – and the room (in this particular instance) is north facing. Nothing there that merits spending more than €50 – not for me anyway. There’s little doubt that I will become “choosier” as time goes on: I suspect my neighbour Sue has already placed a bet at Ladbrokes, to that end, as she senses I’ll be heading in “Hilton direction” before too long – or, finally, opting to give a cruise holiday a try!

I have it in my mind to switch location again, this coming Wednesday, to Pissouri Bay – approximately sixteen miles east of Paphos (but easily reachable from here in Latchi, albeit via a three-bus trip): again, the accommodation costs down there, with said location being somewhat off the beaten track, are in and around what I budgeted for this trip. I may even scout out a “new” location: however, it would then have to be somewhere that I would be faced with booking through an online reservation service. Of course, hardly the end of the world!

A mixed day for football fortunes yesterday (no Diary without some passing reference to the beautiful game, huh?!) with Scotland’s international team triumphing over Cyprus – of all countries – 3-0. It will probably never happen again that I be will in a country, outwith Scotland, that is actually playing against Scotland, while I am there. Quite a coincidence, eh?

On a more local tack, I observed via Twitter that my beloved Dunbar United recorded a 1-2 loss while playing at home yesterday. First time we have lost two consecutive home games this season. In our push for promotion to the higher league, this is undoubtedly a minor setback.

Finally, to this week’s choice of accompanying track: in an effort to buoy “The Seasiders” (Dunbar United’s) possibly-flagging spirits, I will leave them (unknowingly) in the hands of Michael Jackson (!!) - with reasonable advice for the team at this crucial point in the season. Here goes with “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”. Time to get back on a winning track lads! X

Sunday 19th March 2023

I sit here this evening in Cyprus, as the vindication of last week’s change of mind (heart?).

Sure, I know for a fact that The Canary Islands can, right now, boast average temperatures of between 4 degrees - 5 degrees Centigrade higher that what is currently the normal, out here near Paphos.

As I’ve previously noted, on several past occasions, within the body of several of these Diary entries, 20 C is my “personal optimum” temperature and, today, folks, that’s just what is!<>/p>

However, such pleasing temperatures are only part (although, a significant part) of the reason Cyprus beats The Canary Islands to the punch: there’s “just something about this place”. In fairness to The Canaries, I should add that I’ve only ever visited the actual islands of Gran Canaria and Tenerife, therefore I should probably find the time to check out the likes of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote: there may be adventures of the heart lurking in those islands!

Perched on my little sun-soaked balcony (in a little Guest House, that’s costing me the UK equivalent of £26.78 for bed & breakfast[!!] – sure, it’s no palace however I’ve fortunately experienced a few palaces in my time). The place is called The Bella Rosa, 35 minutes’ walk east of Coral Bay, which itself is a twenty-minute bus ride from Paphos Harbour. If you may suspect that I’m somewhat “de-centralised from the main drag” – then you are quite correct!

Having said that (much as in Tenerife – although it’s even more efficient there) Cyprus has an impressive local transport system which, once you’ve carried out thirty minutes research as to how it generally operates, you are off and running – or more to the point: off and “bussing”!

Just returning to the earlier mention of “where the heart is” you may be surprised to know that actually when it gets right down to it (that’s a line from a long-forgotten song, I’m sure) it’s North America that probably has the greatest “pull” on me. I’ve always felt totally comfortable with that land mass – and its indigenous people(s) – irrespective of their colour, creed, or religion. There remains countless “undiscovered” little places, dotted all around that continent (is Canada and the USA technically a continent?). So very much still left to see.

As I write, it dawns upon me that, paradoxically (in my mind anyway) there may be some oblique connection between Cyprus and North America – generally, in the sense of the latter: they both have “proportionally” wide open, almost undiscovered, swathes of land mass that only serve to enhance that impression – but I almost forgot the third contender: “New Zealand”!

Cyprus obviously represents the nearest (and inexpensive) option of the three, from my home base in Scotland. On the flip side of that coin, to spend (say) three weeks in New Zealand requires a four week “block” to include the associated travelling time, to and from the UK.

Geez – look at the time (and the lack of A4 page space)! As he’s been playing away in the background, during the composition of this week’s Diary, the accompanying track can only be a Bob Segar song. So many great tunes, but let’s go with “Going Back to Birmingham” (AL!) XX.

Sunday 12th March 2023

I may have slightly misled you last week – because I’m still here: I had a change of mind!

With only twenty-four hours to go (last Tuesday) – but being able to ease out of the cost of the Tenerife hotel I had booked, with no cancellation fees payable – I actually found myself facing up to the realisation that my heart is rooted more in Cyprus, than it is in Tenerife.

In reaching that decision, I considered (what I believed to be) a clutch of relevant factors:

** Cyprus, generally, is far less of a commercial island than is the case in Tenerife

** there are far more opportunities of “losing oneself” in Cyprus (in my opinion)

** English is widely spoken in Cyprus, with its considerable ex-pat community

** Accommodation costs are noticeably less in Cyprus – and that’s always important

** I have several “direct” hotel contacts in Cyprus, to assist in accomplishing the above

Also relevant to this “comparison” is the fact that I participate in one of two local walking groups, here in Dunbar, on a regular basis (when I’m home) - said walks that regularly culminate in coffee at one of our local hotels. As I was sat there on Tuesday past, with good robust conversation taking centre-stage, I was reminded of the tangible benefits of lively social interaction: a situation far more on offer in Cyprus, than I’ve managed to achieve in Tenerife.

Into this discussion must enter one’s “gut feeling” and – to date – again I feel drawn more to the Mediterranean island, over the Atlantic one (which, in fairness to the latter – and possibly why it is apparently more popular than the former – Tenerife certainly benefits from warmer temperatures during the UK winter months). As I’ve noted in past editions of this Diary, I’m not looking to escape to a “lie and fry” environment: I’m all good with a sunny, warming, 20 degrees.

I should mention at this point that we have enjoyed some very pleasant blue skies, here in Dunbar, this past week: unfortunately accompanied by temperatures in the very low single digits – but I’m certainly about to rectify that situation by this coming Wednesday afternoon!

On another tack – and bearing some relation to the above paragraph – my local’s team’s “away” fixture (scheduled for a location just north of the Scottish city of Perth) was postponed yesterday morning, due to a frozen surface. Hard to imagine that’s only sixty-five miles away.

There is also the additional bonus of the “lighter nights” progressively creeping in, with the advent of darkness now pleasantly edging toward 7.00 pm in the evening. This can only bode well for me. For the time being, let’s leave you with you with a (sort of) holiday orientated little tune, as I head for Cyprus this coming Wednesday morning. Allow me to hand over the stage to one of my favourite “old” bands: The Kinks with (of course) “Sunny Afternoon”. XXX

Sunday 5th March 2023

Just sat here, this morning, wondering if I might have “jumped the gun” a little (what, me?!).

Slightly frustrated at being unable to find suitable return flights to Cyprus, I opted – yesterday – for Tenerife instead. I should add at this point that I had taken a decision, a few weeks back, to disappear abroad again, initially during February: but latterly scheduled for March, while I was waiting for the return of certain tests (which thankfully came back clear).

Ironically, it’s taken yesterday’s somewhat knee-jerk reaction to bring me to the realisation that Cyprus holds a dearer place in my heart than Tenerife. While the latter undoubtedly can boast some fabulously idyllic locations, they do not number as many as I have found in Cyprus.

However, in grappling to articulate the main reason that Cyprus “wins the race”, in my experience, Tenerife – being the huge tourist draw that it is – comes out of the comparison as just a tad too “commercialised” for me. I find it easier to “lose myself” while out in Cyprus.

Later today, I will re-visit the Cyprus flight situation because I have to confess at this point that I’m also trying to work the flights around the (now very real) possibility that Dunbar United FC will surely be promoted to the East of Scotland Premier League by some point in early to mid-April. Having followed the team closely during this current season - and having become quite “attached” to them – I would really like to witness them winning this league.

The current Tenerife hotel arrangements (due to commence this coming Wednesday, when I am scheduled to arrive there) can be cancelled at no charge, provided this is done before the end of this day. All will be revealed in next week’s entry – penned in either Tenerife or Cyprus!

My decision to depart in the upcoming midweek will – by all accounts – at least enable me to avoid a bout of cold weather (apparently heading Scotland’s way, within days). This, in contrast with what I see as I look out into the garden right now: resplendently, naturally, lit by skies certainly more blue than grey – but not quite blue enough to prevent me getting out of here!

Currently – in my view of things – we are “but” three months away from a time when the improvement in the Scottish weather should necessitate that I have no requirement of seeking out warmer climes. I am definitely focussed on making the best of the approaching summer. I’m looking out at my wee summerhouse right now thinking “it won’t be very long now”.

We should never be inside - during the daylight hours - when we could be more comfortable outside: but that time has not reached us yet, hence the need for me to get away for a while.

So where will I be located this time next week when I write to you again? I can’t say for sure, before the end of today! I suspect it will be into the later hours of today before the (my!) final decision is made. In the meantime, appropriately, I leave you with an iconic Lennon & McCartney composition called “Here Comes The Sun” and – no matter where I finally fly into this coming Wednesday – I sincerely hope that will be the outcome. I’ll keep you posted. XX

Sunday 26th February 2023

Two days until the end of this month – with darkness then not falling after 6 pm. Hooray!

The above has to be viewed positively as thousands of people, myself included, slowly drag themselves away from cloying “S.A.D.” symptoms. If you are a (reasonably) regular reader, you may have noted my initial plan to have spent the majority of February away from Dunbar.

This may be an ideal juncture to mention that my blood tests (essentially to monitor any unusual activity, related to the health of my prostate) came back clear, on Thursday past. As well you can understand, that was welcome news – and I therefore continue to maintain my personal stance that if you are in any doubt as to any medical issue (particularly when you are within my demographic - i.e., in your seventies or older) do not delay: go and get it checked!

Naturally, the above news has certainly eased me into a more relaxed frame of mind: in fact, as part of my recent claim to concentrate on prioritising my health, I should be aiming to repeat such a testing procedure (especially one that is linked to a condition affecting males within my demographic) on an annual basis: while still undergoing my yearly BUPA examination.

Now – as I mentioned last week - I had no intention of disappearing abroad again until those health concerns were attended to. Therefore, it now follows that I am experiencing a noticeable itching of the feet! A couple of weeks out in Cyprus or Tenerife definitely beckons!

As you may have picked up from the body of recent entries of the Diary, I have taken an increased involvement with our local football team, Dunbar United FC. Yesterday, an away game against the side “Kirkcaldy and Dysart” descended into a “bad day at the office” – namely a 4-0 defeat. The club are still looking good for promotion to the East of Scotland Premier League (from the First Division) however we have to guard against such “slip ups” as last night.

I actually was quite surprised as to “how bad” I took the defeat – which caused me to reflect upon whether the effect would have been the same had Hearts (the lifelong team I have supported since I was a teenager) during my heyday of religiously attending their matches. I’m actually still chewing over the answer to that, as I currently write. I should add that I travelled to the Dunbar United game on a small supporters’ bus, along with around twenty others and never imagined that the feelgood “vibe” on the way back down, on the bus, would not be the same as was, on the way up – but I never thought we would lose the game either!I should possibly add that (with the exception of pre-season friendlies, where the standard of the participating teams can end up unavoidably mismatched) that’s the worst defeat I have personally witnessed, in the relatively short time that I have been attending the team’s games.

Definitely going to have to lift the mood now, with this week’s accompanying track. Therefore, believing that we WILL be promoted to the higher division, here’s a positive little tune that (surely) must be played on the day that the club accomplishes said promotion feat: a subtly telling track - from Bryan Adams - called “Can’t Stop This Thing We Started”. Let’s not!! X

Sunday 19th February 2023

Still here in the UK - in a month that I originally planned to be out the country throughout.

Reasons? Picking up from a couple of threads from last week’s entry my “delay” is down to (hopefully minor!) health considerations: however, in the last seven days, I’ve managed to make satisfactory progress. Namely, to have blood tests submitted – the results of which I will know this coming Friday. Naturally, it would be reassuring to be completely in the clear!

Otherwise, I have made good use of my time, while based back here in Dunbar – and have rarely pored over my laptop, researching my next (holiday) port of call! On a slightly sadder note, I attended the funeral, this Wednesday past, of the person (Davie Purdie was his name, to be specific) who started me off in the touring business, now over fifty years ago. Such occasions are always sobering, reflective, times: and no less for me, with many memories of Davie - when he and I were “partner” roadies, careering around the UK, back in the early 70’s.

I’m continually aware – even (and possibly more so) when I am not on the road – of the need to “slowdown” from the pace which has underpinned the majority of my working life: this should be true of all aspects of my daily existence, whether it’s mealtimes or social activities or forward planning. As is generally the case, when one approaches this “crossroads” – particularly at this time of life – certain of those long-established traits are not easy to shift.

This I am aware of, but sincerely believe I’m making incremental progress – with the priority being linked, of course, to my health. Each day, here in the UK, we gain a few extra minutes of daylight, and it soon will be light outside, as I watch the 6.00 pm news. That’s great news!

Adding a touch of local flavour to this week’s entry, I must tell you that Dunbar United FC (whose home ground is but a fifteen-minute walk from where I sit, here at home) won again yesterday, meaning they have now gone ten games unbeaten. The community is enthralled!

Not so fortunate was my “big” team (Hearts – the senior Edinburgh team I have followed for over 45 years) who did not have a good day at the office today, going down 0-2 to Motherwell. I still reckon Hearts are in with a good chance of finishing third in the Scottish Premier League, which is quite an achievement – as they did last year as well: it is very rare that any of the other ten clubs in the SPL are able to break the “stranglehold” of Celtic and Rangers.

Looking forward from here, I will be keeping my notoriously itchy feet in check for at least the next two weeks, until the results of these recent medical checks indicate that I have a clean bill of health (of course I remain confident that will be the case). Already, I am probably drinking twice as much water as I did before I embarked upon my recent trip to Tenerife.

Not sure when the next tranche of touring work will transpire, but I’m fortunate to be in the position where that consideration becomes less of a concern for me, as time goes on. Now, in closing this week’s entry, and having witnessed an opposing UK politician call out ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the liar he has been, the late great Christine McVie now concurs!

Sunday 12th February 2023

It’s one of those grey days, folks – and I make that observation purely on a weather basis.

Although …… do grey (weather) days often lead to “grey” (personal) days? In my case, that is always a possibility! The trick (easily verbalised) is to make the best of such days. After all, it’s only an overcast sky, is it not? It is – but how much better do we feel when it’s blue skies?!

One (well, definitely me) surely prefers to be able to “comfortably” spend time outside, rather than find oneself stuck indoors? I’m well aware of the body of people who counter with “just wrap up and get out there” – and at times I do hanker to be part of that mindset: but when it’s blowing a gale, twinned with sleeting rain, it’s tough to find the enthusiasm to venture out.

It’s no secret that I’m “nervous” when snow and icy conditions prevail (as a result of that clattering fall I took, not far from my front door, a couple of years back) although – in fairness to Dunbar, and its fairly unique geographical location – we are probably only looking at an average of around 10 – 15 days of such conditions, in any given calendar year. However, losing one’s footing on black ice – with the threat of (say) breaking a hip – is a fearsome prospect.

Health. Health. Health. I have to continually (gently) remind myself: this is now my priority.

Looking back to how I was feeling last week – a situation brought about, in the most, as a result of my own actions – I’m certainly in a better place this Sunday, with the exception of the minor buzzing in my groin (the latter, I would like to believe, which surely transpired as a result of wearing a pair of very tight “cargo” pants – on a recent four and a half hour flight).

When I last experienced this sensation (after the removal of a sebaceous cyst, within my groin area, over a year ago) the healing process – i.e., the same “buzzing” I’m currently experiencing – took a few weeks to abate, then with the assistance of specific antibiotics.

Therefore, in closing this subject for this week, I must remain confident of an improvement!

Generally speaking, I won’t be venturing outside the country again until the above situation is rectified and I’m back “fighting fit”. This has somewhat interrupted my “Winter Away” plans.

Over the coming days, the key is to make official and practical use of my “convalescence” time, again with my general health being the priority – although there’s always an ongoing to-do list of minor (with a few approaching “major”) domestic tasks that need everyday attention.

As a result of the above, there is something of a transitional week ahead for me, at a time when – thankfully – every additional day delivers us a few more minutes of natural light (which, as well you know, makes a noticeable difference to your author!). It’s simply a case of “onwards and upwards” and making the best of what we have. On that note, I will stay strong - and look positively at the week ahead: the search for the epiphany goes on! This week’s track definitely needs to be something of a mood-lifter, so let’s delegate that – right now - to The Bee Gees!

Sunday 5th February 2023

Back in Bonnie Scotland – with a couple of extra layers of clothing required, weather wise!

In fairness, the average temperature here, since arriving back from Tenerife on Wednesday evening past, has fluctuated around the 6 degrees mark (although down at 3 degrees this Sunday morning).

Although Tenerife struggled to tip the temperatures into the 20 degree + region, during the sixteen days that I spent there, it was still “triple” what was happening back here, in chilly Scotland.

Another aspect of where Tenerife has the drop over the UK (generally), at the moment, is that of daylight hours: whereas – as I was glaringly reminded last night – it’s fairly dark just after five pm here, this point of the day did not elapse in Tenerife until 7.10 pm in the evening – and to a guy like me (who notoriously struggles with shorter days) that’s a major advantage.

However, this time around, there was no consideration (as I have occasionally done in the past) to extend my stay out in Europe. Quite apart from the fact that I had several commitments to attend to, back here in Scotland over the coming week, I was minorly assailed by both the recurrence of a sebaceous cyst (essentially harmless, but not to be ignored) as well as what would appear to be a small dehydration issue. Need to stay on top of my health!

With the above in mind, I’m attempting to secure an appointment with my local GP at the town’s Medical Centre: not as straightforward now as it once was – as a result of the pressure our National Health System has found itself since the advent of the “Covid” Pandemic in 2020.

I have only myself to blame for the dehydration situation – especially after my daughter Jade (who is “religiously” disciplined relating to her daily water intake) set up a reminder application on my mobile phone for me. As I write, there is a bottle of water within arm’s reach of my laptop - and each time the afore-mentioned App “bings”, my job is to reach for that water!

Being troubled by both these (hopefully!) minor ailments within the same general timeframe has – and not before time – enabled a wake-up call for the realisation that, at the ripe old age of seventy, everything in life now has to take its place in the queue, behind your well-being.

Right now, feeling the way I am (but confident that I’m slowly overcoming these – surely temporary - ailments) I would be reticent to take on any touring commitments: mainly because – with the weekly hours of involvement that being on the road entails – your health struggles to improve incrementally. Quite the opposite – although not dramatically – is possibly the case.

I’ll be honest: because of these minor medical concerns, the completion of this Diary entry has spilled over – now - into Monday evening (7.25 pm, at this very moment). However, I want to complete this in the next few minutes, then take a hot bath, followed by heading to bed at a reasonable time – and allowing my body the opportunity to “repair” itself. I’m almost out of space this week, so I leave you with a classic track making its first appearance in any addition of the Diary – and keeping me upbeat: “Honky Tonky Women” by you (should!) know who. XX

Sunday 29th January 2023

I may have possibly tempted fate - with my choice of accompanying track last weekend!

The sunshine has certainly been in evidence for the majority of this past week, but I nevertheless have to report one day of almost torrential rain (Thursday past) and one afternoon of that annoying, half-hearted, “cloying” drizzle: at least the rainfall itself is warm!

Again (for me) I can only re-iterate that there can be few greater sensations in this world, than feeling the sun on one’s back. It just seems to beam me up (Scotty) to some surreal level.

That natural warmth seems to suffuse into my very soul although – when you pause to think about it – it has the same general effect (to a greater or lesser degree) on every “sunseeker” – or do the majority of them just want to “lie and fry” for the sake of tanning bragging rights?

Be it me or be it “them” (to whatever degree – no pun intended – that we enjoy “basking in the rays”) sunshine unarguably has wide-ranging therapeutic benefits. However, as Brits – and specifically concentrating on “our” UK Winter months of (say) November through February (particularly the latter two) – we are fairly restricted in the search for guaranteed sun – and I would say I’m sat right now, generally (i.e., the Canary Islands), in the most dependable area.

For those of you who took History at school (as against Geography – that was the choice at my school anyway!) the Canary Islands are at the forefront of the Winter sunshine queue because of their latitudinal positioning, compared with the likes of mainland Spain, Greece, Turkey & Cyprus. Take a squint at a world map when you have a sec and you’ll see what I mean.

There is possibly one other region (and one that this globetrotter has actually yet to visit) that “qualifies” alongside The Canaries, weather wise and, again, this has much to do with geographical location: that being Madeira, a territory of Portugal – although closer to the African continent than to Portugal. Just under 300 miles, almost due north, from where I am currently billeted, here in Punta del Hidalgo, it will still be a few degrees “down”, on average, on the Canary Islands, at most times of the year – but definitely warmer than in Dunbar!

However, as they (who IS “they”?!) say: “all good things must come to an end”. If it were not for a few things I have to take care of back in God’s country (that, and a hot date on February 5th!) I would be tempted – as I have been on previous occasions – to lengthen my stay out here.

This hotel (The Atlantis Park) ticks several boxes for your intrepid (choosy?) traveller -although I do endeavour to keep to a budget. Avoiding opting for luxury hotels – and their multitude of (at times) frivolous adornments – I’m happy with a wee balcony; a strong shower; a bath – and a “warm” bedside lamp. I still have to thoroughly research the hotels within my budget just to secure the combination of those four. This hotel scores on all four points!

I’m back in the UK this coming Wednesday, but for the moment I leave you with this wee (relevant?) tune. Surely out of my budget, I don’t think I’ll be going to the “Hotel California”!

Sunday 22nd January 2023

As alluded to last week, this Sunday now finds me in Puerto de la Cruz in northwest Tenerife.

I am commencing the composition of this week’s entry a little later in the day than normal: reason being, I had to re-work today’s schedule around the fact that “Hearts” were playing their arch-rivals “Hibs” in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup – a game they have just won!

I was not alone (thankfully) in endeavouring to persuade the local “football bar” to attempt to locate the live satellite feed of the game, from the many channels that they subscribe to.

Several other Hearts and Hibs supporters, the majority of whom are probably on a break from Scotland, certainly added weight to my request. Be careful messing with the Scots, when watching a football game is their sole intent. Hearts won the game – but not that convincingly!

So here I am back in Tenerife – again in common with droves of my fellow Brits – escaping the near zero UK temperatures in the hope of enjoying some winter sun. Having said that – and having now been here six days – there has been as many “overcast” days as there has been those that have bathed the island in sunshine: however, even when low cloud cover has been the predominant weather, the daily average temperatures have still hovered around 19/20 degrees.

As pleasant as this popular little island is (one of the group of “The Canaries”), Cyprus still leads the way, in my affections: trouble being that Cyprus – in relation to the first two months of the year – generally lags three or four degrees “behind” The Canary Islands, where average daily temperatures are concerned. Do I need to consider travelling further afield next year?

However, for me anyway, “further afield” could only mean the likes of Vietnam, Thailand, or The Philippines: all sub-tropical regions - but sub-tropical is where I’m very much at home!

Food (and countries) for thought. Although, on the face of it (if you have yet to visit the “Asian” territories as referred to above), Asia might appear as a more costly option, it does not actually always work out that way – provided you head down there for at least a month. This significantly helps with the “amortization” of the flight costs – being that decent accommodation will set you back no more than £30/night, half the cost of what I am paying here in Tenerife. Incidentally, Cyprus average hotel costs are 80% of Tenerife’s, right now.

Should mention that this canny (tight?) Scotsman is not over-fussy as regards the standards of my holiday accommodation: a good shower, a wee balcony and inclusive breakfast does me.

When you’ve had to hunker down on the floor of the van - unable to afford enough fuel to leave the engine running, to benefit from its attendant heat – swathed only in a cheapo sleeping bag, then some of these basic hotel rooms that I encounter from time to time represent no great hardship for me. On that note, and in the hope that the cloudy skies find a way to dissipate next week, I call upon a close friend of mine (oh, how I wish!) Angela Strehli to convey the afore-mentioned sentiment with “The Sun is Shining” - as, surely, it will! XXX

Sunday 15th January 2023

My life rolls on: however, changes are afoot – and the concentration must be on my health.

Not the first time I’ve made such an assertion – but the talk has to stop, and the action has to (consistently) start: your author is certainly not getting any younger – so, action required!

With a bit of luck (i.e., if this leaking boiler situation of mine is diagnosed as “manageable”) I may slip away tomorrow for a wee break: this cold weather is seeping right into my old bones.

In fairness to the current weather situation, the light is beautiful – as I sit here, composing, gazing through the dining room window: alas, my “simple” twofold wish of A) being able to read my book outside in the sunshine and B) enjoying a relaxing dinner, sat outside in the evening.

The above provisos cannot be met in this country (the UK) – with any sort of regularity – until, at least, early April, in my layman’s overview of our annual, average, meteorological situation. There’s many folks that I come across who just take the “wrap up in more clothes – and get out there” viewpoint, but I’m afraid I can’t subscribe to that outlook. Very little comes close – where a version of the feelgood factor is involved – to the sensation of being bathed in warm sunshine, with some aspect of the ocean within view. I’m surely not asking for too much?!

This time around, when possibly out of the country, a fair amount of reading will focus on health aspects – specifically diet, exercise, and sleep: three key components of my – and most people’s - future well-being. I’m exceptionally blessed with the opportunity, at this stage of my life, to be able to “get up and go” almost whenever I please, therefore it would be remiss of me not to take advantage of that situation. There is possibly a selfish angle to all of this!

In keeping with the sentiment of the above paragraph, I will nevertheless consider any upcoming work offers – however with a fair amount of personal stipulations: I’ve little appetite for touring continental Europe again; I’m unlikely to want to associate myself with an Artist with whom I have not previously worked – and I would prefer to have “live” musicians on tour!

All in all – if I sit back off from where I am in my life at the moment – I believe I’m, personally, in a fairly good place. I should mention that I robustly attacked the inevitable excesses of Christmas and New Year, by harking back to a process that has previously produced impressive results in terms of short-term weight loss: I refer, of course, to “The South Beach Diet”.

Undoubtedly tough, with its substantially restrictive guidelines - particularly in “Phase 1” of the programme - I can nevertheless, hand on heart, reveal that having a “starting” weight of just over 13 stone (183 lbs total) on Monday morning past, I weighed in yesterday morning at 12 stone and nine pounds (177 lbs total) – so a six-pound “drop” in six days is good going. No?

So – will you hear from me this time next week, from warmer climes? It’s all down to the vagaries of my central heating system folks, but you’ll be the first to know. A wee appropriate tune to play you out this week? How’s about Barry White and “Don’t Make me Wait Too Long”!

Sunday 8th January 2023

My key word for 2023 needs to be “Epiphany”: after all, I’ve been waiting long enough for it.

Progress is called for: significantly more in my personal life than my working life. For the second half of 2022 I spent a fair amount of time formatting, trialling and (slowly) fine-tuning a long-term plan that could work out for me, on an annual basis, to play out in the years ahead.

Old habits (definitely) die hard which - when factored into the current state of a body such as mine, which has been subjected to more working hours in a lifetime, than God ever intended – means there is considerable constructive work to be done, to ensure I remain in good health.

Of course, recognising the need to make necessary changes in our lives and then attempting to undertake those changes can be separated by a gap as wide as the Atlantic Ocean. The onset of age only underlines the gentle urgency required to push on towards living healthier.

Next week, I will turn to the successful results I have experienced with “The South Beach Diet” in the past: that is, eradicating sugar (in all forms) and carbohydrate from my diet. I know unquestionably - again from past experience of this regime – that I will lose weight: the only imponderable being …… how much? However, as I’ve just gone “public” with my intention, on this very page, I am duty bound to report my progress here also, seven days from now.

The fridge has been “stripped” of all items that fall outwith the allowable food groups on this (as most people would view it) somewhat restrictive programme. Losing – say – only one pound of weight each week is too cumbersome for me: I don’t have the patience (and, probably, the willpower) to stick with a diet for three months to lose (again, say) a full stone - 14 pounds – in weight. If I stay seriously focussed, those fourteen pounds could be gone in three weeks.

Trouble is that (as I’ve mentioned previously, surely) – as tough a challenge as it is, the best chance of success is assuming the guise of a “hermit” for the afore mentioned three weeks. To explain: under one’s own roof – with all the tempting/fattening foods banished – you have the best chance of dropping the required weight in the pre-planned amount of time. The risk is that the minute you venture over the door (unless for, say, some walking exercise) to any form of social gathering, lunch meeting or evening event - then the plan could easily unravel.

In the above respect I have a few distinct advantages, chief among those being the fact that I’ve undergone this programme on several previous occasions, with varying degrees of success – but never without shedding some amount of weight: once, as much as five pounds in a week.

Tomorrow begins the challenge! I’m willing to publicly state that I currently weigh 13 stones and 1 pound, therefore I’m targeting 12 stones and 10 pounds by this time next weekend.

In sourcing a relevant track to accompany this week’s health-orientated musings, there is one immediate little tune that springs to mind, and from an iconic band – indeed they are called “The Band”! I leave you with one of their many excellent compositions. Yes, “The Weight”! XX

Sunday 1st January 2023

Well, well, well: it’s (unavoidably) that time again. Another brand-new year awaits all of us!

What do I know (for sure) lies ahead for me and - conversely – what, for sure, maybe doesn’t?

Hang on – I’ll dig out my crystal ball, as that may be the only way to fathom the above answer.

Actually, I probably have more insight as to what will not happen for me, in the months ahead, rather than what possibly will. Not that I have any great fear of the fact, but I can’t see me (mainly through my own doing) touring for any more than two/three months, throughout 2023.

However, being the “frugal survivor” I have become, that amount of time on the road (ideally spread over two different projects), will allow me to exist comfortably, with a few cheapo holidays thrown in over the course of the year - without having to seriously plunder my savings.

The Pandemic two-plus-years aside, 2023 will most certainly represent my quietest year in (at least) the last twenty. Again, that frightens me not. Unarguably, I will nevertheless need to fashion some form of “downtime” schedule to see me through the times that I will spend back here in the UK, in my wee hometown of Dunbar. Further community involvement is certainly a key element of that substantial: in conjunction with the afore mentioned, a generally more vigorous move towards a markedly increased social life, will do me no harm.

As I sit here – at 6.25 pm on this Sunday evening - composing this week’s entry, I so want to look outside and see my garden in it’s full (winter!) splendour: right now, of course – and for at least the next six weeks – all I can now witness is a black, cloying, carpet of inky darkness.

I regularly fail to harness any positive outlook from such combination of circumstances (“combination” referring to the invariable cold that accompanies these dark winter nights). At the risk of introducing a morbid note into this week’s proceedings, shortened days almost convey an impression of a shortened life. Positivity (for me) requires the presence of natural light and exterior warmth – and some loud music: surely not too much for a young boy to ask?!

Possibly the most “pressing” decision to be made in the coming weeks is when – and to where – I next skip out of the country; that decision itself can be sub-divided into the choice between “long haul” or “short haul”, flying-distance wise. Into the former category, firmly goes – realistically – North America/Canada, Thailand, and Vietnam. As far as short-haul goes – aside from my favourites of Cyprus and Tenerife – into that category goes the likes of Turkey, Malta, Greece, Portugal (including the island of Madeira). Damn – I’m spoilt for choice!

So, there you have it, dear and loyal followers: it’s only the first week of the year and already I’m presenting another A4 page of jumbled thoughts. Some things never change, eh? By next week, I’ve hopefully unpicked some of those stray woven threads. In closing, the last B.B. King track of 2022 plays us out this evening - and it could only be the man’s take on “Auld Lang Syne”. May 2023 be the year where your dreams (finally?) come true. I’m rooting for you. XX

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