1. Last Knockings for Tea after Transfusions – Blood Donors Miss Out

    Last Knockings for Tea after Transfusions –

    Blood Donors Miss Out

    There is that phrase that the listeners of Radio 4s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue will be familiar with but makes me a little bit annoyed when spoken by Barry Cryer: ”You’ll have had your tea?” The accusation of stinginess isn’t a good one, but I have to say when I had supper with Barry in 2016 I forgot to complain about it. The pianist on the show is an old family friend so we keep in touch and have meals and whatnot and I have to say that Barry was incredibly funny in person and even more entertaining off air, if that is possible. Sorry about not complaining. But now the hoary old joke has come somewhat true for blood donors in Scotland. That refreshing cuppa is no longer on offer to Scots who give blood. The NHS in Scotland is scrapping the practice of providing a hot drink to donors after collecting their blood, saying it will reduce its environmental footprint by cutting the use of polystyrene cups. The Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service is one of the great services of the nation and the health service wouldn’t function without it, but steaming hot tea it seems can also increase the chance of first-time donors fainting. Only the old lags who donate more frequently were allowed the steamy refreshment.

    How Did Dracula Take His Tea?

    And if you read my blog post on glass milk bottles making a comeback you’ll know the nation is rising up against non-recyclable materials and plastics.  Indeed the volunteers were querying the non-recyclable cups, mini milk pots and spoons used in the donation centres. So we are heading instead towards a wider variety of snacks to replace the tea and biscuits, and goodness gracious, a greater choice of gluten-free or vegan treats. Until two years ago I thought ‘vegan treat’ was an oxymoron, but a severe re-education programme from the missus has seen us go vegetarian if not vegan a few times a week now so even an eating Luddite like me can see the need for some graduated change. It doesn’t take away the pangs for terrible white bread, bacon and the delight of the sauce bottle, but I do enjoy some veggie treats. And if you want to be a donor, please do so, it will save lives. NHS Scotland tries to hold enough of all types of blood for six days, but is down to four days of AB negative, the rarest category. Scientific opinion is that taking 500ml of liquid before giving blood helps the possible fainters, rather than afterwards.

    The Times They Are A Changing


    Read more »
  2. Teenagers Behaving like Vampires? – Light Aversion Makes Sense

    Teenagers Behaving like Vampires? –

    Light Aversion Makes Sense

    Do you have a teenager, or do you remember having one? If so you’ll know all about light aversion.  They rise late, at the crack of 2 o’clock, or later, bleary eyed and grumpy. It is biological in many ways and not just slovenly teenagedom. It seems that you can’t grow except while you sleep so teens are sleepy by nature. And it seems that excess light adversely affects lots of wildlife, not just your kids.  Now a bunch of Scottish-based scientists have been involved in a study of how light adversely affects the behaviour of deep sea animals. Working out of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban two teams from the nation and Norway carried out the research in the Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean. The ship they were working went ’dark’ and a "super sensitive light sensor" developed at SAMS and echo sounders to detect the presence of organisms, including tiny zooplankton and fish. The little beasties reacted to even the smallest amount of light, often veering away from the source. They don’t like it.

    The Darkest Places on Earth

    Light and its absence is very important in the sea as it dictates how marine organisms behave. Light makes it easier for predators to find their victim. SAMS said it hoped the research would allow scientists to better predict how an increase in light penetrating the Arctic Ocean as sea ice cover is depleted will impact on marine life. In the winter light is in very short supply in those regions and this is one of the darkest surface areas of the ocean, so any change in that will have big ramifications on sea life down to depths of 200 metres. And the sea is incredibly important to our planet.

    The Ancient Beauty of Glass

    And light is in a way is the theme of all glassware. The lovely translucence of fine glass is one of the wonders of human technology, even though the first man-made glass was developed as early as the Ancient Egyptians. And to give a nod to this ancient beauty of glass we have developed the beautiful Royal Scot Crystal - Jacobean Air Twist - 2 Flower of Scotland Thistle Port or Sherry Glass in a gift box. This is a glass inspired by the great makers of the 17th and 18th century and is hand cut intaglio and half price at the moment. I think it is a delightful work.


    Read more »
  3. The Posties and Snappy Letterboxes – New Homes a Scourge of Postpersons’ Fingers

    The Posties and Snappy Letterboxes –

    New Homes a Scourge of Postpersons’ Fingers

    Now the postie is everyone’s friend, he or she brings us letters and parcels and who doesn’t love a missive or a packet? In rural areas they can be a lifeline to the outside world, although at the moment a spot of isolation may be thought a golden thing. And as I write not all is right with the world at all.  I remember when I was a Christmas postie back in the day, the worst thing back then was dogs. It wasn’t a very posh area to say the least and so lots of houses kept a dog that would scare away tallymen or bill collectors. On my first day I was given a half a snooker cue loaded with lead and told that was for dogs. I almost left on the spot, but thinking it was a wind up I carried on. There was a dog called Bimbo in the well named Bark Road that was hugely ferocious. I had to use the postie’s bike as a shield to get to the front door and then fling the letters at the letterbox.  I expect Bimbo’s owners must have thought nobody ever wrote to them. Lots of other houses had dogs that went for your fingers as you pushed the letters through, if they missed you the canine’s then shredded the letters in frustration.

    No Post Today the Posties Gone Away

    Now the Royal Mail has halted deliveries to homes in a new housing development – because of dangerous letterboxes. No dogs are mentioned at all. It seems that the posties have got their fingers caught and grazed in letterboxes fitted with anti-burglar hoods at new homes in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. These letterboxes are designed to stop thieves fishing for keys through the slot. Now Royal Mail has said any home with the offending letterbox will be blacklisted and not delivered to.  The suspension of service is a result of a row between the delivery firm and the new homes builder, a national firm. The letterbox guards were fitted to stop thieves fishing for keys through the door but postal workers have complained of cut fingers and grazed knuckles. They haven’t got a Bimbo on their rounds I hope. To get round the ban some residents have already removed or altered their letterboxes, but those who haven’t either have to collect post from the Royal Mail  sorting office in Inverurie or set up deliveries to an alternative address with the extra expense of that.

    No Extras Here

    Read more »