Category: Uncategorized

The secret learning in our own backyard

Courtesy of the lovely people at Google, I recently attended a super evening event at The Secret Herb Garden, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, at the foot of the Pentland Hills.  This herb nursery – which, in addition to growing and selling all varieties of herbs, also runs courses in painting, flower arranging and other …

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Saving the bees

It is almost universally accepted now that the decline in the numbers of bees is of great concern to humanity as a whole. Loss of habitat, use of pesticides, climate change … there are many reasons for the decline in bees, and we should most certainly be worried – not just for the bees, but …

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You can do anything if you set your mind to it …

This being August, it is Festival month in Edinburgh, and the city is bursting with events and performances under the auspices of a number of different major festivals. Amongst these is the International Book Festival, which brings together a host of authors, illustrators and publishers in a rich programme of talks and workshops, and yesterday …

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The Railway Man and the power of endurance

Great stories, told simply, are powerful – and the story of Eric Lomax (the Railway Man) is exactly this. I have not seen the film, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman; rather (and possibly better) I recently read Eric Lomax’s book, and I found it both moving and inspiring. The story is now well-known: as …

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Unity in Diversity – the power of sport at the Commonwealth Games

Our newspapers and television news are bombarding us at the moment – almost literally – with images of war and its dreadful effects. Whether the images are from the streets of Gaza or from the fields in Ukraine where Flight MH17 came down, we are confronted hourly with the horror and destruction that results when …

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Casting arrows and songs into the world

I spent a gloriously uplifting evening last week as the guest speaker at the annual Speech Night at St George’s School in Edinburgh. The young women whose achievements we were applauding were poised, grounded and ready to go out into the world, so in addition to the thoughts I gave them about how to make …

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The Commonwealth ‘Spirit of Love’

The Queen’s Baton passed into Scotland early on Saturday morning, headed for the Commonwealth Games which begin in just over a month’s time in Glasgow. A symbolic handover took place at the border, when the Baton was handed from the great former decathlete, Daley Thompson, to one of Scotland’s current main hopes for the Games, …

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“There is nothing like a Dame” … but there can be! Lessons from the work of Dame Daphne Sheldrick.

Taken out of context, this catchy line from South Pacific could well be applied to Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who celebrates her 80th birthday today. Dame Daphne was born of British ancestry in Kenya in 1934, and has spent her life caring for orphans of wild animal species from black rhinos to zebras, and warthogs to …

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The blight of self-harm – and what to do about it

As reported in yesterday’s Guardian, a WHO study (to be published in full later this year) reports that the number of teenagers in England who self-harm has trebled in the last ten years, and is now around one in five. Self-harm – cutting, burning or otherwise harming oneself – is a sign of intense mental …

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An incomprehensible act

Ever since 300 girls were abducted from their school in north-eastern Nigeria last month – almost exactly a month ago, in fact – it has been hard to find anyone across the globe who does not regard their abduction as anything other than a most dreadful and despicable act, unworthy of fellow human beings. The …

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