My bookshelf tells a story

Lockdown seems to have got me thinking of times past.

Older British readers of this blog will remember the days of the traditional prizegiving. These events were, and sometimes still are, a marker of the end of the school year or perhaps the last day of Sunday school before the summer holidays or Christmas. In their 21st century form, they have become known as awards ceremonies (in schools at least) and awards, if they are given at all, are generally given on a much more thoughtful and considered basis than they were fifty or sixty years ago.

In the traditional prizegivings of my youth I was the recipient of a few awards – usually in the form of books. Some of these still feature on my bookshelves today. Lest you think I am being boastful here, or drawing attention to my early flowering genius, I should point out that it was possible to obtain a prize simply for turning up most Sundays, in the case of Sunday school, and most days of the school year in the case of primary school. In retrospect I realise that there was always a hard core of youngsters – probably even the majority – who received no prizes at all at those events. There was also a hard core who received a disproportionately large number of prizes. In some years I was one of the group that received no prize – nul points – and it hurt, but such was the system at the time. Like most other children I accepted this as part of the rhythm of the year, part of life which was commanded and controlled by adults.

For younger children, the books given as prizes were often sub-divided into the categories of “suitable for girls” or “suitable for boys” and distributed accordingly. One Sunday school prize I received and treasured for years was the novel The Coral Island by R M Ballantyne, a Scottish author who travelled the world. You probably know the book well. Written in 1857, it tells the story of three young English sailors – Jack, Ralph and Peterkin – who are stranded on a remote island in the Pacific. As a child, I read and re-read that book as an adventure story, to the point where I could visualise clearly every incident in it – the shipwreck, the flora and fauna of the island, the unexpected arrival of pirates, the capture of Ralph, his encounter with “savages”, and so on until their eventual escape from the island. At one point I could have quoted sections of that book to you verbatim. As a child I read it simply as a tale of derring-do, and in that sense it left a strong impression.

Looking at that book again as an adult, I am surprised – and somewhat depressed  – by the fact that the language used in the novel is at a far more sophisticated level than anything I have seen children of the same age tackling today. That is an aside, however. As an adult,  I can also see that the all-male story reflected strongly the imperial values of the nineteenth century – the desire to spread Christianity and civilise the “savage”; a view of the world that implied British superiority over other races; a very precise moral code where the pirates who led “evil” lives were given their just rewards; and above all the ability of three clean-living young British men to survive more or less happily together on a tropical island and to provide mutual support to one another over a long time, with much of the knowledge and wisdom emanating from Jack, the oldest.

In his 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, William Golding borrowed the tropical castaway scenario to paint a much bleaker picture of how a group of young boys might behave in the same circumstances. To underline the contrast he even borrows the same name for key characters in his novel – Jack, Ralph and Simon, with the otherworldly Simon forcibly reminding us of the biblical Simon Peter (Peterkin). If you have read the book or seen the film you will know that things do not turn out too well for that group of lads.

The two novels were written a century apart. Implied innate goodness and moral certainty in the nineteenth century is replaced by implied innate evil and moral equivocation in the twentieth. In the 2050s will another novelist try his or her hand at constructing a similar castaway fable for the twenty-first century?

With the current spate of statue toppling and guilt about slavery, I leave you to mull over your own thoughts about how that future novel might look. In today’s climate, where a very different kind of moral certainty seems to rule, is The Coral Island in danger of being forcibly removed from my bookshelf? Should I even feel guilt about keeping it there?

As I say, lockdown gets you thinking about the past, but also about our present times and the future.

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The best medicine

Sometimes you just have to laugh – exercise and laughing: the best medicines, as anyone will tell you, whether medically qualified or not. Best of all, these medicines are free, though I acknowledge they can be difficult to obtain for some people with physical or mental challenges.


This image appeared today on social media:

Those of us who tentatively offer our verbal outpourings to the world live in fear of such unintended spell check gaffes. Most of the time it does not matter – in fact the author of that poster probably provided a lot of free happiness medicine to a lot of people. The fact that it appeared on social media, however, always leaves the nagging doubt that it may not be entirely genuine. No matter. Genuine or not, I bet it caused you to smile, even if it was a forced half-smile or even grimace (schoolboy humour, mutter, mutter. Get a grip, Sinclair).

Schoolboy humour of this kind always reminds me of an Irish friend, whose sense of the ridiculous helped me through a year of teaching in a German Berufsbildendeschule (literally, “Calling Building School” – roughly, Further Education college). There is not much humour in the formal side of most education systems, and the German one is no exception. In the world of education, the best humour exists not in dry curricular documents but in those classes where the teacher and students have a decent rapport and can share the occasional or even frequent joke. Sometimes humour comes unintended in the utterances of teachers, students or their parents – but that is for another day.

During the course of that year in Germany, for educational reasons naturally, I felt I should make the acquaintance of some of the fine local grape varieties – from Műller-Thurgau to Scheurebe, Dornfelder to Riesling, I sampled them all. A glass of Meddersheimer Paradiesgarten, for example, was just the thing to wash away the cares of a day spent teaching English to the trainee carpenters, mechanics, builders, bakers, factory and office workers of the college. The German Mark was riding high at the time and even quality wines were cheap when compared to UK prices. I can taste it now, that first cool sip of Paradiesgarten on a warm evening, the day’s labours behind me, the opportunity to socialise and improve my stock of German conversation in good company, the…. but I digress.

Generous and outgoing to a fault, I felt that it was only right to share the pleasures of the local wines with friends and family when I returned home for a couple of weeks at Christmas. This being the 1970s, the mobile phone had yet to be invented, so I walked along one evening to the public telephone near the station. There I called my Irish friend – I shall call him Frank – in a town some 25 miles away and agreed with him that he would obtain a case of selected wines from a vineyard close to him, and that I would collect and pay for the wine the following weekend. Remember, in those days a bottle of wine, and especially good quality German wine, still had a slightly exotic air about it, so would be warmly welcomed back home. Warmly welcomed, and hopefully served chilled.

I drove over to Frank’s flat the next Saturday, with the happy feeling in my heart that much of Christmas was now sorted, but a slightly less happy feeling about the stack of Deutschmarks in my jacket pocket that I was about to hand over to him to make this possible.

Later, as I drove off from Frank’s flat, with the case of wine clinking slightly in the boot of my car, I glanced in the rear mirror. Was that a conspiratorial smile I saw being exchanged on the doorstep between Frank and his flat-mate? Friendship is a wonderful thing but some good friendships are based on banter, as well as trust. A few streets away, I stopped the car, got out and opened up the boot. The wine had been supplied in a wooden case held together with light wire. I prised it open and counted twelve bottles. Fine. Each bottle appeared genuine, full and undamaged. I was imagining things. The unworthy thought that Frank had supplied me with ten bottles instead of twelve or cheap plonk instead of genuine quality wine should be banished from my mind.

And so, a couple of weeks later, I was back in Scotland giving and receiving for Christmas. To those special family and friends, a carefully selected bottle of German wine was given. Friends, cousins, parents – even the man who was to be my future father-in-law received a bottle. I saved a bottle to share with my parents on Christmas day. A special day made more special by the presence of a Meddersheimer Paradiesgarten.

It was some weeks later, back in Germany and well into the new year, before I ran into Frank. He was wearing the broadest and most annoying of smiles.

– How was Christmas?

-Fine, and yours?

-Are you sure everything was OK?


-And the wine, how was that?

-Great, thanks.

That damned smile again.



-What is so funny?

-I think we should have a glass of wine together.

It was over that glass of wine that Frank finally confessed. He and his flat mate had gone together to collect the case of wine from the vineyard and had stored it in a spare room. That evening, the thought of those bottles resting quietly in another room had become too much for them.

They had begun by carrying the case through to their living room. They had stared at it. They had commented to each other how flimsy the wire was that held the case together, how easy it would be to open it up then close it up again. Then, that they owed it to me to check that the bottles were indeed the correct ones. Yes they were. But didn’t they also owe it to me to check the quality? Yes, they would be doing me a favour. So they very, very carefully opened one bottle, preserving the seal and cork intact, poured themselves a couple of glasses then another couple, then much bolder and much merrier they refilled the bottle with cold water, very carefully reinserted the cork, very very carefully replaced the seal and returned the bottle gently to the case. Much giggling, no doubt.

I rewound Christmas. I thought of the faces of those who had received bottles. Unwittingly, I had been playing a kind of viticultural Russian roulette with them. Which friend, which relative had received the dud? Which had raised a glass to his or her lips and said to themselves, “Why is this wine so clear?”  “Is this wine water?”

To this day, I do not know the answer to those questions. I never asked and no-one ever said a word about it to me.

Frank and I are still friends. We smile a lot when we are together. Perhaps fortunately for those around us, these occasions are rare.

To the present, and the world of stroke, which is supposed to be the core topic of this blog. A Facebook friend and stroke survivor illustrated his latest post with this image:

For stroke – and lockdown – survivors, humour and exercise: the best medicines.


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The toosie slide and other delights

The ageing brain is capable of growth and development. How do I know this? This morning, to my wife’s considerable annoyance, I set myself the target of completing the Times mild sudoku in 15 minutes or less. She dislikes any unnecessary stress, pressure and ridiculous targets, but you’ve got to do something to keep your spirits up during lockdown. I almost managed to achieve my aim (and yes, I know, teacher followers, that aims are different from targets). Despite interruptions, I completed the task in 17 minutes. A year ago, with patient coaching from herself, I struggled to complete a sudoku grid at all. Now I have even managed to tackle the occasional fiendish one successfully. So, brain power growth achieved (albeit slowly), alongside smug self-satisfaction.

There is hope here for all stroke survivors. As with sudoku and brain power, so with neurological recovery, stamina and muscle strength. Last November, as I previously posted in the golden pre-covid days, I invested in a small treadmill. Despite the fact that it is located in a cold garage, I have been conscientious in using it through the winter, on days when the weather was too miserable to consider going out with Archie. From a lowish starting base of 5 minutes per session, which left me wobbling with muscle fatigue on the way back into the house, I can now manage 20 minutes at a reasonable pace without draining all energy from my body for the next two hours. This is helped, as I pointed out at the time, by listening simultaneously to the innuendo-drenched adolescent humour in past episodes of I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue and other classic comedy, which helps to take your mind off the repetitive tedium of treadmill use.

My opening statement on this post about ageing brains was further encouraged by learning today that the actor Anthony Hopkins (82) has gone viral – unfortunate term – for his attempts to do something called the “toosie slide”. This “dance” involves movements – left foot up, right foot slide, right foot up, left foot slide – which you can observe on the rapper Drake’s video here. Probably best if you don’t try to understand the lyrics. If you switch off the sound, and simply look at the dance movements, you will be reminded of those foxtrot instructions – slow, slow, quick, quick, slow. Or, at least, a version of them. You can apparently find Anthony Hopkins’ performance on a social medium called TikTok.

I feel it is unlikely that I will ever manage the toosie slide. Even pre-stroke, my dance style was described by partners and observers as “interesting”, but you never know. One day residents of our street may hear our garage throbbing to the sound of Drake the rapper’s lyrics, and the distant sound of my feet sliding and lifting across the floor. I fear that if that is ever the case, “slide and lift” will be the last words I hear as I am hoisted into an ambulance by despairing medics.

And still they come

I have received more pangrams from creative writers:

From Bethan Starling, thinking of small children:

A black cloud descends. Ecstatic, Finlay grabs his indigo jumpsuit. Keen little mouth open. Patience quavers. Rain! Splash! The utopian vision. Wild, xenodochial youth zigzagging!

And from Jane Stephen, who may be feeling the pressure of lockdown:

A bored couple driving each other frantic. Geriatric humour is jaded. Knives look menacing. Nattering on. Prattling. “QUIET!” roars Simon to unrestrained voluble wife, Xanthippe. “Yes; ZIP (it).”

Meanwhile, David Ellix feels we should add to the torture of creating pangrams by attempting “margnaps” – i.e. telling the story with the alphabet back to front. As my friend, Alison, pointed out, this would have the benefit of dealing with the “x” early on in the writing process. This is David’s rather good A – Z offering:

“And breathe! Culture demands effort. Find great, high impact, jingles. Kindly love music now, or perhaps quietly retire south.” The uninspired, very weary, xylophonist yawns. “Zzzzz”

A land of quizzers?

It seems that during lockdown we have become a land of quizzers – quiz setters and quiz doers. Long-suffering followers of this blog will remember that some time ago I offered a cryptic quiz based on British trees. I have had a number of local replies, which I’ve responded to individually, but, particular congratulations to Mr and Mrs Davies from Pentredwr in North Wales who have sent in a complete set of correct answers. Well done. I hope lockdown is going well with you.

Now, let’s have another look at that toosie slide….

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Briefly, pangrams again

This morning, snow flakes in a cold north wind. Bright bursts of sunshine followed by periods of grey gloom. Still, a trickle of pangrams continues to flow, with the ever present challenge of “x”.

Barbara Craig’s prompt is her memory of children’s parties, thrown or attended over the years:

Absolute bedlam, children demanding entry. Falling, gavotting, hopping, incessant jostling, keening, loud monkey noises. Open, party, quick, retreat, serve the usual victuals. Wonderful, Xylene young zingers.

Helen Corrigan, on the other hand, reverts to the meaning of pangram I mentioned in my last post, i.e. that a pangram should include at least one occurrence of each letter of the alphabet. She writes:

Pangrams in the sunshine! Wot: Rain, cold and cloudy tomorrow!
Bang goes jogging, leap frogging over bollards, quick zealous exercise for wot we were meant to have!!!!

Strictly speaking it should also be a single statement – e.g.the quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog or intoxicated Queen Elizabeth vows Mick Jagger is perfection

Pangram perfectionists would probably argue that Queen Elizabeth and Mick Jagger shouldn’t feature, because they have capital letters. For me, it doesn’t matter. Just have fun with words. After all, you probably have some time on your hands.



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Pangrams in the sunshine

The first week of May has arrived. Glorious weather on Deeside continues, as does lockdown. In the world beyond, politicians pontificate; experts argue; people suffer and die; health professionals and carers treat and care. And everywhere the vocabulary of pandemic repeats itself daily – “self-isolation”, “new normal”, “PPE”, “stay home”, “peaks”, “flattening the curve” ,”testing and tracing”.

Here, morning coffee is taken in the garden; daily exercise follows; pre-prandial drinks are enjoyed outside in the late afternoon; Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting offers light relief with post-prandial coffee, and may be followed by a classic film before bed. The weather won’t last – wintry showers are promised for the weekend.

Meanwhile, that title. Pangrams? “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” is a well-known example of a pangram – i.e. a sentence using each letter of the alphabet at least once. This week, presumably in an effort to keep our brains sharp, the Times took the definition a little further by inviting readers to write a story (which they called a Pangram) containing 26 words in alphabetical order. Here are two examples from Wednesday’s edition

I decided to pass this idea in front of a couple of groups of creative writers – one local, the other on-line. Their incentive to get writing was publication on this blog, which is at least as prestigious an outcome as publication in the Times (in my view). The results have begun to come in today and so far we have:

From Natalie Austin:

Always believe, charlatans deceive
Everyday for greed
How? I just know
Let’s maybe now overhear
Prying questions
Relentless stamina
That useless virtue
With xeroxed youthful zeal

From Liz Marchant:

Anxious but calm, Diana elevated first gingerly holding in jitters. Kangaroo like, mindful, naked. Oh Pranayama! Quite rightly shattered through undertaking versatile, wickedly x-rated yoga….zzz.

From Alison Bruce:

A black cat drops effortlessly from green hanging ivy. Jaded killer, lithe, muscled, noiseless, old predator, quietly ravages squirrel’s territory. Ultimately, very wicked xenophobia yields zealot.

And from me, a pangram giving you a horrible insight into my mental state in the seventh week of lockdown:

“Arse”, bellowed Chris dropping eggs floorwards, giving his impish judgmental knowing lustful mistress (new open partnership) quality reasons simply to unleash very wanton x-rated yelled zingers

I will publish more when/if they come in – and yours, too, if you send them to me via the contact details on this blog.

“Hooray!” I hear you cry, as you head for the wine rack.

Stay well.


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Spring continues

Our glorious, but cool, Deeside spring continues to laugh in the face of lockdown, as shown by the amelanchiar close to our back door and the blossom beginning to appear on our two pear trees (below), Conference on the left and Bon Chretien on the right. With luck they will avoid late frosts and give us a good crop this year. Ironically, our big problem at the moment is drought – there hasn’t been any substantial rain for many days – look at the dry compost in our runner bean pot.


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Corona-spring on Deeside

The coming of spring on Deeside is a slow, ambling process where there is a pattern of a few days of biting winds and low temperatures followed by a single glorious day of warmth and blue skies.

Such was the case yesterday (Wednesday) when we had a full day of acceptable warmth and sunshine and the sudden balminess of the weather was such that we were able to enjoy a late afternoon pre-prandial lockdown drink outside, with Archie somnolent at our feet. There he is resting, oblivious to it all with his head protected from the crunchiness of the gravel by his outside bed – actually an old duvet permeated with a very satisfactory (from a dog perspective) aroma of canine mustiness. Being Archie, from time to time he adds an additional whiff of mustiness to this duvet, and the surrounding air.

Master and Mistress read their books, there is a clink of glasses, Archie sighs occasionally in windy contentment, the weather is balmy and so the third day of the fourth week of lockdown winds to a close. As I have said before, unlike many, we are fortunate to have a garden in which to break the indoor monotony of lockdown, even if the temperatures are on the low side.

There is much talk on the media of maintaining one’s mental health in these strange times. I am not sure if it is creeping old age or just general grumpiness, but I wonder about all the stories of very energetic people doing very energetic things during this period of stasis. People manicuring their gardens, redecorating the house, learning a new language, reading Shakespeare to their children – all of these things are fine but I certainly don’t want my mental health damaged by being made to feel guilty if I am not filling every moment of every day with some vigorous creative activity. Wasn’t over-filling our time one of the problems with the old life?

What I have really enjoyed in the last few weeks have been the leisurely phone calls. It has been great to have so many phone calls from and to people that we have not seen for a long time, in some cases not for years. And not just to have the call, but to have time to talk at length, to regurgitate old jokes and in the case of video calls to get a hint of the caller’s wider current life (and tastes) from the backdrop to the call.

During this period of down time, I’ll be doing my bit for others and doing my bit for my own physical and mental wellbeing. All of us who are not on the front line bravely caring for those suffering from this dreadful virus are managing our  isolation in the best ways that we can. If you are embarking on dozens of new projects and you want to tell the world about them on Facebook and Twitter, that’s great. Just don’t expect your way of dealing with this coronavirus stuff to be the same as mine, or the same as your family and friends. We all started this period from a different perspective and in wildly different situations. We will all deal with it in our own different ways, some of us successfully, others less so. None of us should feel guilty about that. Those differences are part of what makes us human.

If there is another warm spring day soon, I might even look out another smelly old duvet and join Archie on the gravel in a symphony of flatulent mindfulness, but I won’t be putting that on Facebook.



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Self-isolation – 4

How you cope with this lockdown probably depends very much on your starting point. The media are full of suggestions of how to use the time positively – everything from taking up a new hobby to learning another language are amongst the ideas I’ve seen. There have been images of talented families singing together and of lithe young men and women suggesting exercises to keep you fit while you are stuck at home. If, like me, you are lucky enough to live in a house with a garden there is at least the opportunity to get some fresh air and feel closer to nature. Downward dog in the middle of the lawn is optional.

What if your starting point is somewhat less positive? Illness? Bereavement? Loss of employment? Poverty? In such cases, lockdown must seem like the final crushing blow. If you can access them, you are likely to rage at the cheery Covid jokes being passed around the internet, or the plucky messages to pull together. Such things must appear like the equivalent of telling a depressive to snap out of it.

These are testing times for all of us, not least the health and social care professionals treating patients and tackling the consequences of the virus head on.

Yesterday some of us from the Deeside Stroke Group began the week with a Zoom exercise session led by our excellent physiotherapist. We are going to try and keep this going weekly until we are able to exercise again together in the flesh. We range in age and also range wildly in physical ability, but watching the six or seven images of us on screen, each in our square sterile digital box, it was impossible not to think of this as a bit of a fight back; one in the eye to coronavirus; half a dozen flickering images that promised a return to hope and a better future. At least those were the positive thoughts that circled in my mind during the session. Afterwards, stretching out against a wall, my muscles told a different story in which there was less hope and more pain.

Anyway, keeping your mind as well as your body active is important, so, following positive feedback from the quiz in my last post, here is another one to keep your neurons firing. Once again, if the mood takes you and you enjoy the quiz, any relevant health charity is likely to appreciate your donation. Go on. You know you want to.

Answers are available from me using the contact details on this blog.


                     BRITISH BIRDS CRYPTIC QUIZ                           
                                                (may include anagrams)


1. Rub down musician (9)________________________________________
2. God! Barrier (7) ______________________________________________
3. Sounds like lorry changing direction (6, 4)_________________________
4. Wheat waste, then measure (9)_________________________________
5. Out of breath (6)_____________________________________________
6. Chess piece (4)_______________________________________________
7. Drink up instrument of flight (7)_________________________________
8. Regale to lose queen for bird of prey (5)___________________________
9. Wash raw pork for this bird of prey (11)__________________________
10. Fencing her?(10) _____________________________________________
11. One pig found in city streets(6)__________________________________
12. No brawl for night time hunter(4,3) ______________________________
13. Valuable item beside top of hill (9)_______________________________
14. Illegal activity? (5) ____________________________________________
15. Female sibling? (6)____________________________________________
16. Mr Stoker with jewellery (9)____________________________________
17. Face card next to digital audio workstation (7)______________________
18. Attire for sentencing to death (8)________________________________
19. Tenth letter (3)_______________________________________________
20. You might need a dish for this jolly jape (7)________________________
21. Hit with head then break shell (8)________________________________
22. Heather after heavenly body? (8) ________________________________
23. Coloured tool (12)____________________________________________
24. Let in nasty, noxious Eric – tea for starters (6)______________________
25. Muir – with Scots lass (7)_______________________________________
26. Farm worker with house (8)____________________________________
27. Sounds like it should hold your kebab together (4)__________________
28. Wild party ends in north (5)____________________________________
29. Boulder talk (9)______________________________________________
30. Fast (5)________________________________________________
31. Famous grump (6)____________________________________________
32. Hot drink left (4) _____________________________________________
33. Child’s play on the donkey?(7)__________________________________
34. North Briton hesitation (6) _____________________________________
35. Nonsense, brassica. Untrue (12) _________________________________
36.Shake or shiver (5)____________________________________________
37.Something for your tank? (6) ___________________________________
38.Regal angler (10) _____________________________________________
39.Freshwater bird caused by a rare wilt (5,4)_________________________
40. Agricultural produce (9) _______________________________________

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Self-isolation – 3

For the last two years the Deeside stroke exercise group has produced a fund-raising quiz. Our current quiz is available until 31 March from members, from local shops or from me in return for a donation of £1 or more. Unfortunately, our group will not be able to meet for several weeks during the current lockdown. In these times of self-isolation when there is a renewed need for mental stimulus, I offer this additional quiz which is open to anyone who reads this blog – or comes across it accidentally. If you’re not used to cryptic clues, maybe now is a good time to learn the joy and frustration which they offer. Over to you:



(may include anagrams)

1. Accompanies gin (4)_________________________________________
2. Confused panel sounds unattractive (5) ____________________________
3. Diminutive Tell gives a cry of pain (6)_____________________________
4. Capable rap produces fruit {4, 5} ________________________________
5. Thrash me with this (5)_______________________________________
6. All right, includes article (3}____________________________________
7. A silly hussy initially left by a fag (3)______________________________
8. Sounds ill before Italian, love (8)_________________________________
9. Prickly girl (5)______________________________________________
10. Long for (4) _____________________________________________
11. To start, young Eric waits for this tree (3)__________________________
12. Neat – and tidy (6) _________________________________________
13. Beside the sea (5)__________________________________________
14. Killed Cleopatra – and in French! (5) _____________________________
15. First two of anchovies followed the dispute (5)_____________________
16. Church official (5)__________________________________________
17. Rest on a few when you’ve done well (6) __________________________
18. Lithium found beside a French lake (5)____________________________
19. Bed above a religious festival {11) _______________________________
20. A fortyish flowering shrub (9) ___________________________________
21. For tightening your sternum? (8) ________________________________
22. Hollywood city with most of Scots poet hesitating (8) ________________
23. One who interferes (6) ________________________________________
24. I can see this tree – the mist has left (5) ___________________________
25. Brass? Light? Both together! (8)________________________________

To receive an answer sheet, email your answers to me (use the contact details on this blog)
or DM me with your answers on Twitter (@ericsinclair8)

Optionally, if you enjoyed completing this quiz, you may care to make a donation to a charity which you feel is particularly relevant in these difficult times.

Good luck, and stay well.


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Self-isolation – 2

If there is any advantage to self-isolating on Deeside, it is that there is plenty of beauty around us. Our garden is beginning to come to life, although when we see pictures from other parts of the UK we realise how far behind our trees and shrubs are here. No matter, to brighten your day, here are some photos of the colour in our garden today.






The pink flowers above are quince. These produce yellow/orange fruit in the autumn which can be made into quince jelly. I wonder how the world will look when this year’s fruit is ripe.

Finally, the answers to the cryptic clues in my last post

10 Across: Useful note that is received by religious community (10)

Convenient (Convent + i.e.)

15 Across: Candid work in French (4)

Open (op. + en)

You now have an insight into my wife’s mind. She finds this stuff easy.

Stay well

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