The Fiona MacCarthy

The Fiona MacCarthy

What pleases and annoys

Instinctive, impulsive, and logical but always passionate and reflective of what I feel here and now.

Individual blogs are in most recent, first sequence and are also grouped in various "categories" which are just to the right & down a bit should you prefer to search that way. Please feel free to add a comment.

Blog restarted November 2017


Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Tue, December 26, 2017 15:08:55
Thoughts on Christmas, present.

First Christmas without my mother. Strange isolation tempered slightly by reusing last years christmas card from her. Inked words reignited in loving sentiment.

First ever Christmas tree populated by decorations from my mothers tree which in turn was populated by my Dad before he died in 2007. Never felt inclined before, although boxed decorations probably screaming "love me" "use me" and glitter brightly for being warmed by warming hands and defrosting heart.

First Christmas without my godmother Rosemary whose wisdom and peacebroking most missed.

First Christmas bauble bought. aaahhhh an addiction: a new one!. who knows.

Strange festival for an atheist with stranger cold close family relations contrasted with blossoming warming friendships with several cousins.

The rampant crass crude commercialisation inflaming passions of anti-fest.

Craving simplicity and purity of solid personal friendships renewed and strengthened in ignorance of the con-comm-fest.

Happy and sad, reflective and contemplative. Purposeful and stronger. Yes; strange few days.

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BM, Tate, V&A and a bit of the Bolshoi

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, August 07, 2016 08:03:44

Extracts from my past fortnight in London: A bit of education, entertainment, exercise and relaxation.

Went to a #zlistdeadlist at British Museum which was a humorous look at 4 people from history who did not quite make it to the history books, but were a close 2nd to say the least; or so was the opinion of a comedian or curator with a comedians’s touch. At the end we voted on our favourite (Roger won)

· Arthur Cravan eccentric is a good choice if a single word to describe an intimidating pugilist whose physical presence was often more powerful than his fists. Trotsky was impressed enough too.

· Harry Price a failed magician is perhaps a bit cruel but the talking mongoose story crueller still and that bit not by me

· King Roger of Sicily was a canny lad to use a Geordie expression who thought that coinage bearing islamic and christian symbols a wiser way of uniting a multi cultural society.

· Lucian of Greece who was writing science fiction 1800 years ago and also of crossing the Atlantic.

Emerging at the end from the lecture theatre in the basement into the Big Hall as I call it was met by the gigantic stare of an ancient carving. I had gone the left stairs and everyone else the right stairs not that they were any righter so to speak. But there was I eyeballing alone a giant of the past alone. A moment of personal enchanted magic


is for me, a lovely venue for a coffee in sunshine in haven of touristy madness. The plaster caste moulds of famous European statues a great tribute to effort of replication. But jewellery blew my mind as to the variety scale and delightful intricacies of superb craftsmanship

Lingerie display very brief on materials history and styling. Tatty touristy.

Tate's Bhupen Khakhar exhibition (Mona's and Georgia's are/were much better) would have been improved by more guidance on imagery. I also don’t appreciate being told that displays contain adult imagery in a gallery and hey presto we get a painting with singular or multiple penises. Its an art gallery not a Victorian temple.

British Museum’s guided tour of its top exhibits is excellent value for money, for time and for guidance through this labyrinth of magic. On my particular tour with Norwegian guide, not a Brit in sight of what were nearly all from rest of world drives home to me the craziness of erecting barriers on the movement of people when art is global. On my menu:

1. England Sutton Soo

2. Lewis chessmen walrus tusk chess from india. En route Norway to Dublin- A story in itself.

3. China money –no!! the money is not made of Chine but paper money so so old.

4. Portland vase which has survived several smashes and careful reconstruction

5. Silver cup 2000 year old roman times portraying gay lovers of greek design themselves a further 400 years older. (and some would say that homosexuality was a reflection of our decadent culture: as natural as time itself. and attempts to purchase blocked by arch loony archbishop Canterbury

6. Nebamun Egyptian hunting scene

7. Standard of UR

8. Rosetta Stone but note replica available on right with the rreal thing and real crowds on the left of central hall.

9. Korean Iron Buddhist statue,_Koryo_dynasty_02.jpg

10. Easter island takeaway

11. Mayan lintels of imagination and cruelty

12. Winged bulls Sabbou from Iraq would look good on most driveways

13. Partheneon which is rather big and no wonder they want them back.

London walks was tailor made for my mindset. With some 20 tours per day, rocking up at tube station with no appointment, paying a tenner for a two hour guided tour of this fascinating city with like minded people. this particular sunday:

Old Jewish area at Whitechapel was educational and then I googled the factions of Judaism and so many interpretations. Like the other 2 monotheistic the first object is multiplication of options. The polytheistic religions at east offered multiple objects of veneration.

1000 years of Westminister was exactly that and in 150 minutes too. Killing and conquering on the battlefield and the bedroom: what else did you expect.

Previously enjoyed Famous square mile, mayflower to brunel of which the former was the best of the 4 and the latter the least enjoyed BUT only in comparison with the other four.

BFG aka Big Friendly Giant was a delight in escapism, imagination rampant and feel good supreme. No intellect required just love. Its a movie in case you thinking something else

Taming of the Shrew by the Bolshoi at Royal opera House was top class. The interpretation was modernised to present a sense of equality between Katharina and Petruchio with a meeting of minds replacing the older “taming”. Purists trounced by modernity in a classic art form. Humour reflected splendidly, characters so true and costumes a delight in complementing a choreography that was vibrant and visually enchanting.

Goldsmiths “artist teacher and contemporary practise” visually disappointing as the artists seemed to assume I knew what I was looking at. Note to artists: please help us more. Twas the same problem at Tate’s Bhupen. We are not all reared in the mothering chamber of artistic hatchable incubation.

Coming Up next fortnight
Proms #37
Royal academy Summer exhibition
Le corsaire from Bolshoi
A talk on collecting middle eastern art at BM
Others to fill in gaps as not enough there

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My second weekend in London

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, July 17, 2016 08:40:00

My 2nd weekend in London (this year) seems rather a surprise after being here working week wise, since February. Did not expect to be here so little but plan from now till September is to spend every 2nd weekend exploring and learning.

On Friday last, where I took the day away from work and went looking at Jewellery from Mesopotamia at British Museum. So little has changed in many styles and designs in 4500 years or so. Could imagine the necklines that may have worn the same. I have decided after little thought that the BM can only be explored piecemeal as it overwhelms me in terms of breadth and depth. Some evening sessions booked as I seek to learn more behind the scenes. Took the opportunity to pop into the Sicily exhibition with its bright touristy inviting pictures (it might have been sponsored by Visit Sicily) and also its fascinating multi-cultural multi religions which for the most part got on with each other. Carthaginians Greeks Romans and Arabs all contributed and benefited from this gem of an island. Coinage for example would contain symbols from both Islam and Christian faiths which is in stark contrast to so much hostility in recent days between these faithless faiths. (84 varieties of dead bodies in not so nice incident in Nice).

Saturday morning took me into Tate modern for an early show, one of the benefits of my new membership where I got the opportunity to wander around for an hour before the hordes (like of me too) descended to see the Georgia O Keefe show. Born in Wisconsin of Irish-Dutch-Hungarian parents (still just 2 parents but you can work it out), she lived and worked between 1887 and 1986. I liked the quote from her “I don’t know what art is. No one has been able to give me a satisfactory definition”. She travelled within the States living in deserts and cities and painting with curiosity and love what she saw. A return visit to the Mona Hatoum exhibition was also enjoyed as it allows a different view of this talented and very creative artist.

Saturday afternoon saw me exploring the street art of Shoreditch with Dave and his Shoreditch Tours. Opened my eyes to the diversity of artists from around the globe as they too pushed the boundaries on the definition of Art, the materials used, the methods of application (not talking a spray can of graffiti), the inspiration for the message and medium used and the thoughts they inspire in us the audience. Poles (the vertical metal ones in street) adorned with various messages of an artistic nature. Curiosity engaged to learn more and simply to observe better what surrounds us when we walk, travel.

A musical about a baby kidnapped by a gypsy, allegedly murdered (ring any modern bells a sleeping nanny by the way), revenge initiated, a woman murdered and in error but her daughter seeking revenge, two brothers competing for the love of the same woman and on opposite sides in a war but not knowing they were brothers. This was the first half. Tacky? No way. Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Royal Opera House on Friday night was to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw void of intellect and strong on passion.

Three very different movies last week at Goldsmiths Cinema venture with Curzon

Maggie’s Plan had the cast and the talent, a script that in places was electrifying but the editing was careless too often with opportunities lost, emotions artificial and perhaps too rushed to complete.

Absolutely Fabulous was a longer version of its former weekly format, with over the top acting particularly from Patsy, a script that was sharp, a plot that sometimes drifted as if to fill the time and cameo appearances galore. It was in the editing department that I felt that it was sharper and more professional uplifting this movie from where it would otherwise be. Commented on as my vies digress from professional reviewers and I saw these movies 24 hours apart.

When we were kings, was a re-release of a 1996 documentary on Mohammed Ali. A true revolutionary more genuine than Che Guevara who (Che) strangely remains an icon beyond his shadows whilst a true revolutionary was Ali. It was nice to see Kinshasa again as the setting for most of the documentary and that great battle between 2 boxers are different stages of their career in 1974. (my residency was 1995-97). Ali’s opposition to conscription in a racially divided country as a young man (did time for it too) was a reminder of how little has changed when we look at Black lives matter and yes despite a President of mixed race although we keep being told he is Black which is rather insulting to Obama’s mother. I believe that Ali would have been a far stronger leader and respected commentator was it not for Parkinsons. It’s a pity we lost decades of his poetic and musical voice fronting a good and kind human.

Sunday will see a walking tour late morning, some quiet reading of art books acquired and a trip to the Globe theatre for Macbeth this evening (cost£7.50 which is perversely the going rate for a glass of wine)

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2015 thoughts

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Thu, January 01, 2015 14:23:16

The Christmas holiday season is very much a mixed bag, but only, of enjoyable activities in my life. Partly a time for reflection upon the past year, certainly a time for feasting and sharing but also a time for looking ahead.

I used to see this time of year as one where I would wish health, wealth and happiness to all; but my slowly accumulating wisdom sees health and happiness as the most important “wishes” by far. Wealth may, or may not happen and it is far too secondary to the core two wishes of mine.

On these measures, am doing well and plan and hope to do as well and better in the year ahead.

In a few months’ time I will be a lucky thirteen years here in the North East of England. The past year has been an opportunity to enjoy and develop personal interests. I am feisty in my determination to not let the past be the blinkers to the future activities of pleasure and learning that I pursue.

Education has, is and will play an important part of my life. The “WeAreExplore” programme is an exciting treasure trove of classes (single and series) in Literature, Art, History, Music, Science etc which has invigorated my Saturday mornings and also many evenings for a few years now. Starting last year and continuing into the new year will be more classes on subjects that might be on the periphery of what already ruffles my ears and dazzles my eyes and some closer to core.

The city of Newcastle has a vibrant theatrical scene and last year I got out of my comfort groove to enjoy and experiment with its diversity of venues and show types. Cinema and Comedy club add to variety of evening and weekend activities.

A blind spot of mine has been the dozen or so art galleries and museums as I used to know just less venue names than the finger count on one hand. Have started on my plan to rectify that silly mistake.

Three years ago my main entertainment was to pop into one of my local music oriented pubs three times a weekend for most weekends. Declining general support have made several of these events rather dreary despite enthusiasm of the musicians. It is a shame but with a greater diversity of activities I am happier with my alternative opportunities and still frequent these venues when other activities not happening. And oh yes there are many music pubvenues in this city that I should frequent too.

These activities that delight and stimulate the brain are of course little use if the body that acts as porter, so nobly and thanklessly (generally) is not flowing with vitality. Walking is pleasant and particularly along my local coastline but winter mornings can be an easy blanket excuse for a distraction. My recent finding of Yoga with a few classes in December pre fattening and feasting time was my treasure trove this year and am already enrolled for the new year. My body has thanked me. I’m naïve and ignorant on yoga other than knowing the location of my mat, the importance of disentanglement of limbs when imagination outreaches ability but am hungry in mind and body to learn.

Cooking has been an important form of relaxation and yes nutrition too but my efforts have been basic and would for example often include fresh fish from my local Fish Quay grilled with lemon or paprika (mmm yes). The advice this year of a good friend enabled me to newly relish in the recipes from a web based business and in particular their international menu. I have enjoyed their offerings these past few months although my waistline has overindulged in their desserts. In essence! they provide a multitude of spices some very unusual to the novice, a simple guide and hey presto: the palate leaps with joy.

Volunteering has and will remain an important part of my more recent life. The Befriending programme with Age UK is in its 4th year and I continue as Treasurer with 2 other organisations (the educational one mentioned above and also with TransmediaWatch. )

On the work front I continue as a Freelance Interim and have a few months left on an 18 month contract with University of Sunderland. Not everything shared here on this aspect.

The above might (just might) on reading appear an unrealistic and over optimistic view of my life but it has taken several years to get to where I am. I am confident of the direction I’m heading although the paths are often obscured. I fall, fail and make mistakes, but these are learning points and remain more determined than ever to continue to grow as a human.

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My breakup from facebook

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, August 24, 2014 08:20:54
Facebook and I were introduced to one another by a good friend although I was well aware of its attributes before we tied the knot.
Everybody seemed to have facebook already and I soon overcame the self imposed hurdle of fear as to not having many "friends".
I accepted any invites but was slower in extending them. From time to time there was a humane cull of some. Over the past year our relationship had become more rocky. It was the aspect of putting all "friends" in the same category. Yes I am aware I could categorise friends and put posts out categories but my life on my page was disclosable to all friends such is the way. I saw further complications in how I would define people with stickers as to what type of friend they were.
It was the death of a "friend" with whom I would exchange pleasant conversation when we met and no more combined with a cartoon sketch of a woman talking to a vicar type in a church in front of a coffin and rows of empty pews " I thought he had so many "friends" on facebook". I heard of the death of my facebook friend well after he had died and felt let down by how it all works. ie how facebook work. Have a birthday, a relationship change, like a certain type of sauce or obscure music and facebook will bring it to my attention. But "die" and yes the less said the better.
So I quit
Less than a month later I was suffering withdrawal symptoms as to what I was missing and yes certain friends not living nearby were now out of reach.
I returned to a shorter list of "friends" in anew account and soon the invites were coming back in from true friends and others prompted by facebook to make the world a bigger connected place.
The slap on the back of head recall that if one is not paying for something that one is the product and not the customer hit home and so I left after a few weeks.
There are some with whom I have lost contact details but I will find a way.
The biggest concern I have is the impact on my physical senses from withdrawing. There was a definite mood impact and writings suggest that this is chemical "highs" from checking my account and postings which I no longer get.
I will survive and get on with friends in real world supplemented by other ways of communication with those less close in the geographical sense

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Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 09, 2014 06:52:05
Rivers, throughout the world play an important part upon and within the communities who live in and around them, influencing their hearts, pockets and souls. The important symbolism represented by flowing waters with known past, visible presence and less clear future is not lost for those who reflect upon their temporary images and possible ripples in said same waters. The river Tyne is like an extra artery pulsing within Tynesiders.

A musical by the name of Tyne, arising from the creative and local “Live Theatre” flowed strongly into the Theatre Royal last night with the typical tale of Tyneside family reflecting upon recent bereavement, current struggles and less clear future. A talented cast of 7 sang, played a range of musical instruments and wove several poignant stories into a bigger and stronger enchanting tale with history through song, laughter with touch points for contemplation, and entertainment with professional style.

The river Tyne which flows by, about 100 metres from my home near where it enters the Sea has touched me frequently too with its powerful black magic over the past dozen years. Last night was an opportunity for personal reflection too.

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Personal Plans for 2014

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Thu, December 26, 2013 07:37:22
I do like to make plans although always with the flexibility to change as circumstances change. Those made a year ago have indeed turned out rather well.

Family relations have improved mainly through the celebration party of 50 years of marriage of my godmother Rosemary and her husband John. That brought an invite to Ireland for a weekend in September. It was a lovely day and perhaps a highpoint of the year not in anything about me but rather: them.

Work in our period or is it decade of austerity saw a 2 month gap as I ended one contract and sought out another which started in November and should last a year. The gap would have been shorted if an agency had done its work properly.

Other aspects of my life have gone well and am very much happier than I was 12 months ago.

For 2014
I will continue to develop my personal interests, developing what I have started and exploring new avenues and venues of entertainment. It is too easy to get into a routine and blinker my own vision. This conflicts with the comfort and stability of the known.

My voluntary work has grown and developed over the past 3 years with a wonderful new activity this year with Explore and the year ahead will be more a period of consolidation and am certainly not looking for any new activities. Age UK and TMW are the other 2 very different organisations who help occupy my spare time.

My interests in cinema, theatre, live music and comedy club will continue to be developed, new venues added and less television is planned. Must add a regular night out with a buskers group.

By summertime this year I will start laying the groundwork for a new contract to replace my current one which will end in November. Do not want to be non working in December.

For holidays I have plans for long weekends in Amsterdam and a week in either Latvia or Tunisia. Id love to utilise my longer holidays (University) and travel to India but finances will restrict this year. Its a nuisance to have the holidays with this work contract without the finance. Striking a balance a must.

None of this will be possible without a healthy body which should and will be more respected this year.

A minor plan is to update this blog weekly with a relevant post, either about my views on the world or maybe something else. Twitter and other social media such as facebook are useful but have been too front of centre stage in retrospect

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Personal Plans for 2013

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sat, December 29, 2012 06:49:50
Its not easy to set plans but if we don't, there is a tendency to drift. From my perspective I need a challenge or I will put my feet up and drift with incidental necessary activity as any Leo can, will. ie hunt 5% sleep 95%

I use the guide of "4+4", being 4 key big areas and 4 key not so big although I would say juggle them around to suit oneself. (4 fingers on each hand is how i remember them) I have developed and refined this approach over the years and there is no rocket science, just ongoing progress. It also avoids "blindspots" where we can easily overlook a key area of our lives.

Key Area #1 (and what I plan to do)

Family: Maintain contact with my Mother and (talking) sister. This area is far from ideal in my life but has stabilised although lost contact with my 16 year old godchild earlier this year cos of my gender- (she never even knew of Fiona). Family is important to all of us and I just want to do the best I can. I cannot see any way of doing anything better, but always check and review.

Key Area #2
Friends: Keep, love, cherish. Springclean those (very few in fact) that hold me back in life / ie one way friendships. Continue to look for that special friend in my life.

Key Area #3
Work: Temporary !! contract due to end in June and with winding down of business does need action. Work with agencies to secure new work optimising skills gained in project management. Appearance, professional, network and communication skills must be top notch from January, as market very competitive.

Key Area #4
Community: Continue the current Charity work and look for new opportunities to give my time without over committing.

Key area #5
Hobbies and Interests: Education, Music, pubs are well in hand and want to learn to cook better refining my taste buds. More exposure to different art forms planned as education and entertainment. Less telly and couch potato simulation. Time for writing a must.

Key area #6
Health and Medical: Exercise exercise exercise and medical check ups with teeth, eyes and general. Do not join gym.

Key area #7

Financial; Spend less than I earn. Continue to save aggressively (I started late) for retirement regularly reviewing performance.

Key area #8
Spiritual I'm happy as an atheist (worthwhile asking myself just to check) but if you are spiritual this is where it would fit in.

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Personal review of 2012

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sat, December 29, 2012 06:08:03
As the year races to a close, this cold wet Saturday morning seems a good time to review the year that is finishing as it has affected me personally.

The good things; top six

The troubling health problems of the last few years were resolved (touch wood) by some surgery putting the quality of my physical life back to where it should be.

Fair consistent earnings from work with the added bonus of more Project management experience which is a useful expansion of skills. I also have continued to enjoy what I do.

Exercised the passport by holidaying to Turkey breaking a self imposed accidental embargo- (complicated explainable) . Several good UK trips. More plans are being made.

Cerebrally have found (dec 2011) good courses in music, art, literature, history and philosophy at North East Centre Lifelong Learning. Have also started to maintain my Professional accounting skills by getting to courses in London (they change the rules lol). Wine tasting courses continued too- so much more to do.

Socially, I consider myself very lucky with my friends (quality) and venues (good pubs and music) in the local community. My friends have been top notch throughout the year and more so when I needed support, and new friendships made, many deepened and a few one sided cleaned up ie ended. Theatre outings have been good and joined Tyneside Cinema (good movies not just the discounts).

Community work with Age UK befriending programme and some accounting work with Trans Media watch allow me to give of myself and my time.

The not so good (top 3 ie half the good ones)

Earning have flatlined despite inflation which hurts moneywise.

Finding someone special to share my life has been empty.

Weight has gone up (just to make up 3 issues and tis just a temporary nuisance)

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Tale of an office christmas party

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sat, December 15, 2012 11:12:22
Newcastle city centre is marketed nationwide and beyond as a party city. However after 10 years living in the North East, it has never excited me despite the presence of excellent friends. Loud moronic music, silly bar prices, evaporated taxis at home time and too many precarious unbalanced of mind drunks.

Thats the negatives out of the way and now a positive tale

Our annual christmas at the company to which I have been lucky to benefit workwise over the past 3 years + (it was a 6 month temp contract initially) has been held at same Piccolinos venue in the city centre with escape to nearby bars and clubs.

The Hotel
And so it came to pass that at about 5.30pm I was checking in at the Travel Lodge Quayside which says its a noisy late night hotel (who can fault its honesty), but was not noisy until the 8.30 am fire alarm (30 secs but was awake). The ground floor room was 3 storeys up (hill silly) and gave me a most beautiful view of Tyne bridge this morning. It was cold but I was hot and receptionist eagerly listened to my minor complaint this morning. There was a single long hair in the shower but the fact that it was in the top corner of a 8 foot high shower suggested a tall ageing viking, a long haired shaggy bear, or somebody looking to find fault with an otherwise clean room.

The Meal
Piccolinos provides industrial scale catering ideal for parties and only 200 yards from hotel but 600 yards by my sober directions when looking for it. The starters were poor for all my companions, the mains were very good (my salmon) and desserts very good (my choccie was excellent). Our meal price included some wine but a 250 ml glass at bar of shiraz was £6.50 and it was amongst the cheapest. All in all a good venue to start with at 6.30.

The pubs
Eye on the Tyne was the first port of call and most pleasant with £10 bottles of drinkable tempranillo although I left a glass for Santa as I cannot stand waiting for drinks. The bloke in front of me at the bar was non plussed by me getting served before him but such is the way of my barside charm.
The Slug was offering cocktails 2 for 1 and one of my friends was expert in her advice but venue was very non busy. Sell the share

The night clubs
What a weird collection as we headed in a dwindling office crowd. A great colleague negotiator got us to the top of the Q regularly as we looked for a good venue. A big police presence of average sized police persons were a reassuring presence to a rather drunk but good natured crowd of pleasure seekers

The only fault
My shoes expand or my feet contract as the night progresses and my heels were portered hotel home by stockinged feet along cool paving slabs- hate the bumps at intersections to help the poor of sight.

The morning after.

Newcastle quayside city was most pretty in winter sunshine and clean cool streets.

Does my view change?
I had a lovely night out in the company of some fabulous people whom I am lucky to work with, a quick trip home and a good night's sleep. Not all city centre drink prices are stupid, some venues are weird and all music was atrocious. And I loved the night.

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9 months in

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 30, 2012 09:00:23
No, I'm not about to give birth, but 9 months into the year 2012, I am pleased that my plans are coming true although not always as quick as I would have liked.

The past 2 years had seen a recurring medical problem, far from life threatening but sufficient to disrupt my life at work and play. In June a good surgeon provided a 5th medical intervention that looks like its working. My spells in hospital over the 2 years confirm my appreciation of good health and that many others suffer far worse than me.

Working as a contractor in a recession is challenging and am now readying for a final end to contract in December: not bad for what was meant to be a 3-6 month contract some 3 years ago. The economy is flatlining, a long slow recovery most likely with emphasis on"slow" and more challenging than ever. Yet Im keen.

Personally I'm delighted with finding the North East Centre for Lifelong Learning and its wide range of short courses. The next 2 months or so will see stretching of the cerebral lobes in Music ( the orchestra ), Art (Picasso and UK artists in Edinburgh), Literature and Philosophy as well as an intriguing series of Sunday afternoon sessions at Tilleys. Newcastle Wine School offers a course on Chilean and Argentinian and so all is not so selfishly of the mind. Not a bad choice for 10 weeks.

There was a time when I could fill passports with travel stamps, border crossings and visas. From 2002 my travels became curtailed due to changes in my life but mainly due to evaporated confidence. A trip to Turkey in May saw that spell broken and a renewed sense of confidence awoken. Shorter trips to Glasgow, Lakes, York and a return to London soon have revealed the delights closer to home. Currently I toy with thoughts of fresh pastures but speculate that job and or money will restrict those thoughts.

Most important have been the quality in depth and range of my friends who have been invaluable when times are temporarily challenging. The internet forums of skype and facebook allow contact to be maintained across distance and also closer to home, but the real world forums of quality local pub venues with their musical entertainment provide the best opportunities for communication.

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Glasgow weekend

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Tue, August 28, 2012 19:58:49

Travels with Fi.

Some observations.

Glasgow July 25th-27 2012.

Train trip north to Eden! /Edinburgh, from where I would go west to Glasgow

Ex lambs gorging keenly in keen expectation of a terminal date avec Madame et Monsieur de Saucy Mint.

Slate grey neutered sea meets cloud enwrapped pot-marked cotton wool gently tasting hills.

Waverley Station congested to madness by split personality construction destruction sprinkled with a choc top of Celtic foreign at home accents

The option of the slower multi stop Gaelic named routes, this time in Sassenach, next time in Gaelic at a cost to my life of 30 minutes: good semi wise move.

Waverley, Haymarket, Kingsnone, Western Hailes, Currie Hill, Kerknew Town (Union Ja(o)ck Flying), Livingston South, West Calder, Addieswell, Fauldhouse, Shotts, Hartworth, Cleland, Cafin, Holy Town, BellsHill, Uddington and Glasgow Central. A total of 19 stations and other than starting ending not one would encourage a visitor to get off train and explore. Suggest that Scottish tourist board look at Newcastle to Hexham line and not the Hex to Carlisle line which reflects the finer points of socialist tourism clearly replicated north of Hadies wall.

And the rain came down

In Glasgow eventually took shelter with sodden hooves in Mussel Inn (157 Hope St, 0141 572 1405) for a sea fest of gastronomic delite. An abundance of staff in a cavernous very non mussel room brought food with taste Sea Bass Tempura, Moroccan Mussels and Afogate (ice-cream, espresso liquor of choice mixed at will by self.

Abundant Bag pipe street players most likely Scottish in a cosmopolitan city where so many restaurant and hotel workers are foreign to this land.

Grid patterned street with imposing bricked buildings conforming and yet at times stridently independent. New buildings frequently accommodating the old in a submissive style and yet at times making a new claim on the city. In time the old will prevail because no new building has the soul of the old.

A river of bobbing multicoloured meandering mushrooms woven into a gridded glazed-brick earthen coloured tapestry silhouetted against a sullen grey sky.

Bold bouncing rain.

BigBold BlackBrown dog walking non famous five young males soaked silly in their theatrical gesture laden striding.

ManBoy diligently cleaning 2 sided white plastic garbage bin to pristine white wedding dress but ignoring the base. CarelessClean Inc.

Glaswegians are not healthy. It’s not their deathly pallor but scaringly the quality of their skin, their girth to height, the number of walking aids; their coffin knocking let me in countenance. Not all but enough in numbers to shock.

Dunnes (popular Rep of Ireland) stores opposite a Celtic attire. Odd and out of place on the street.


And the rain came down

Cafe Nero on southern end of Buchanan St, staffed by Scottish blokes (so its not all foreigners), a most delightful squared 2 storey building with a cute castle like exterior.

Oddballs abound at this early hour:

Parents with outsized child: height weight clutching a French guide book to Scotland

Cordoned off crime scene where police tape and officers keep pedestrians away from an alleyway between shops.

Way home

At Glasgow Central on Monday morning (non holiday here) a polite accent with a hint of Scottish asked that no cycles, skateboarding or rollerblades were allowed but said nothing about the training and tracking wheeled baggage as it keenly pursued its biped travelling companions weaving in and out of a chaotic tapestry of pax-flow.

Head-butting pigeons fastidiously hoover up crumbs from early morning breakfasts

West Cornwall franchise of pasty franchise which implies distinctiveness with East North and Southern Cornwall and yes what about Central Cornwall pasties, itself sandwiched! between ticket control gates manned and womanned by yawning humanoids.

Hired killers patrol aboard wheeled carriers but then I realised it was only RenToKill collecting rubbish.

Giant Lego like building bricks of ghostly grey supporting wide reaching steel spans riveted cold.

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Holiday Fethiye

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Tue, June 05, 2012 07:56:45
Please find link to my webpage and some observations from a recent holiday

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Units of alcohol

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sat, July 23, 2011 10:49:52
Over the past couple of years I have been asked the question many times as I have wandered the labyrinth of NHS form filling. (I have finished my treatment and must no longer fib). And why "fib" you will ask.

We are judged by our answers to the question on units, but our combined answers as a nation comes to only half the actual consumption of alcohol in this country (studies show). Of course, tourists visit and drink our drinks but we travel overseas for foreign alcohol. The HMRC have quite tight controls on what is consumed here in this country and there are no significant explanations to the fact that the average person halves their consumption to arrive at an answer to the question of how many units. I have always told the truth; okay sometimes I fib!.

And if you do not know what a unit of alcohol (UK figures) is: here are a few numbers. A pint of 4% beer is 2 units, a shot of spirits is 1, and a 750ml bottle of wine of 12%ABV (on label on back of nearly all wine) is 9 units but the abv strength can vary from 6 to nearly 15% and with varying glass sizes, a calculator is required by many of us, although drinking by the bottle simplifies the arithmetic.

Safe alcohol levels which were "plucked out of the sky" are for 14-21 units per week for a female and 21-28 units per week for a bloke. That is 2 pints of beer per day for a bloke (maximum) and approx 2 bottles of wine per week for a woman and that's the max. However there are no scientific studies to back up these figures and "plucked from the sky" was the answer from the chair of the committee which established these guidelines over 20 years ago. Challenging a doctor with this fact is great fun. I do believe that too much alcohol is harmful having conducted many experiments over the years but also find that zero alcohol ever is also bad.

Therefore I enjoyed reading this article in the Independent this week by Andrew Martin who chats away pleasantly about personal experiences and units of alcohol and how the government is forming a new committee to review safe drinking levels. But the reality is that there is no alternative way to arriving at "safe drinking" levels in his opinion... but one. Drink to excess on 3 days and rest for the other 4 of each week. This happens to be mine too. Cheers Mr Martin.... large wines all round.

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Taggart is killed (off)

Just about mePosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, May 15, 2011 11:57:49
Nicely written article by Tracy McVeigh in today's Guardian about the end of a long running Scottish crime series which in 28 years and 110 episodes was sold to over 80 countries helping to promote Glaswegian and Scottish tourism too. Those beautiful sandstone buildings and sunny street scenes.

I enjoyed the characters with their frailties, their humanity and just sheer ordinariness when so much else on television is single dimension good and bad.

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