Thursday 14 February 2013


  • the qualities of a hero or heroine;
  • exceptional or heroic courage when facing danger;
  • a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger or pain without showing fear."
This post was triggered by a friend, who wrote saying she'd have to cut her email short because her husband had just brought her lunch. And in that moment a whole realisation flashed into my head about the untold stories of the courage of men.

Now you might think that books and movies make a big deal about courage. In a way they do,  but it's only specific types of courage they tend to focus upon. Most movies portray courage in action - the warriors, the soldiers, the superheroes. They rarely portray the courage of those who endure; those who stand and stay. There's no denying the courage of the soldier or the warrior, to face death and pain takes immense courage, but action is in itself a release from fear and a way to cope. It's a courage fuelled by nature itself - adrenalin pumps, the heart pounds blood to muscle and the senses quicken. To react, in fight or flight, is instinctively easier.

So why exactly did a man making lunch for his wife bring all this to my mind? It's because he was making lunch for his wife who is in bed recovering from chemotherapy. He's been busy taking care of her now for quite a few months and I wonder if he realises how incredible his seemingly simple actions really are.

Years ago a woman I met told me this story. She told me of the time she'd woken up in a hospital bed to find her doctor had unhappy news. It wasn't terminal, but it would change her life forever. After explaining everything carefully the doctor left her and her husband alone. Her husband kissed her and told her everything would be just fine... then he walked out the hospital, went home and packed a bag and was never seen again. He didn't have the courage to endure, the terror of staying was too great and once he started running he could not stop. 

And sadly there are many men who run from these kind of fears, either literally or by escaping into alcohol, etc. Women do it too, but on the whole there seem to be more men who struggle to endure long term courage situations. I suspect it's because men aren't always taught the courage of standing and staying. they're taught how to react - to fight or fix the problem. Our modern obsession with violent action games and movies seems to prove the point.

Now, I'm not trying to diminish the glory of those genuine heroes who save lives and take great risks to protect others, they deserve all the credit they get.

What I'm more interested in doing today is adding more awareness about the courage of those who keep on keeping on for months, years and lifetimes. For the fathers, husbands, brothers and sons who, in times of sickness and hardship, act as the anchors and the safety nets. They cook meals and clean houses, they sit beside beds, take care of children, act as a taxi service, wait in waiting rooms, wash the weak and hold the dying.

They are my heroes.

Finishing with one of my favourite songs. It was the theme to the movie GLADIATOR, but I think it feels like the perfect music for every kind of hero.

Sunday 3 February 2013

Ducks a Dabbling

Yesterday we took a trip down to the seafront, hoping to photograph some feathered visitors to the area - Eider and Long-tailed ducks. We saw a few last month, but I never had my camera with me on the day and since then we've either been too busy or the weather too ghastly to try taking photos. Yesterday was a cold day, but not too windy, not too rainy, and the harbour was FULL of seabirds...

Here's  a close-up shot so you can see who is out there. Most of those are Eider ducks, but the big bird in the centre is a seagull and behind, to the right, are a pair of Long-tailed ducks.  There's another Long-tailed duck in the very front too. I just noticed him. The Eider duck females are brown and the males are a crisp white and black with a very tasteful pistachio-green nape. You can just make out the green on the back of their necks in the photo...

Here's a pair of Long-tailed ducks, the female, at the back, is mostly brown. You can just make out the male's long thin tail feathers in the water. 

A close-up of the male...

And another male who came paddling by...

There were two pairs quite near to where we were standing, busy diving for food. Hubby took this photo of them diving...

 There was a cormorant cruising up and down hunting fish.

He did eventually catch a big fish, but gulped it down so fast the photo is just a blur. LOL

There were lots more sea birds and ducks at the harbour entrance...

There was a very friendly couple taking photos by the harbour edge. The man kindly pointed out a rare bird that we'd have definitely overlooked without his expert eye. It was a pair of Common Scoters. They were too far out for us to get a decent photo, so I'm going to recommend that you check out the photo on the blog owned by the man who let us take a look through his scope. :-)

His name is David Slater, he has his own blog of bird and nature photographs and he also runs birdwatching tours and workshops. You'll find the photo of the Common Scoter here and more information on his bird tours, Birding Ecosse, here. 

I recommend checking out his blog, he has some lovely photos. :-)