Approaching the End of the School Term

Approaching the End of the School Term

Towards the end of June we approach the close of the Scottish Schools’ term
This time frame must produce mixed feelings for pupils, teachers, and parents
Relief for the teachers once all the marking and assessing are processed
Release anticipated by the pupils as they exit the school gates
Concern in the parents as to how their offspring have done
And also the perennial problem of child minding in the long break

Of course it is true to say that most kids today do go away, at least for some time
Whether on holiday with family and friends – and many of these are overseas vacations
to destinations that earlier cohorts could only dream of
In fact in common with many others of my generation the Scout Camp
At Crieff or Moffat was our most exotic prospect – ten days under leaking canvas!
Still, we survived (the midges) and were not subjected to the temptations of Magaluf

I suppose there is a sense of life in transition at this time
Some moving from Primary up to the ‘big school’ with all its unknowns
For others the prospect of progressing to college or university
In the hope of training for an uncertain future ‘career’
And teachers wish their charges all the best for whatever lies ahead
No matter they are inwardly glad to be seeing the backs of some!

And for all, pupils, parents, teachers, and those connected to them
A sudden increasing awareness of the very transitory nature of life
Perhaps even more so in this modern age where everything seems
Somewhat provisional.   The old certainties swept away
In jobs, in marriage and relationships, in housing, in the economy, even faith

Perhaps we no longer live under the shadow of the 1960’s Cold War
But do we feel secure as the schools are out – how can we feel calm?

Ken Fisher

Summer Solstice 2017

Summer Solstice 2017

A glimpse of sunshine warms our heart
Flowers and leaves reflect the light
The gentle rays caress our brow
Our lips widen with a smile

For now the daytime stretches out
Filling each hour with gentle light
Dark days of winter long forgot
We rejoice in life outdoors

From this ‘crows nest’ of the year
We scan the horizon fore and aft
Behind long hours of winter gloom
Then spring pregnant with promise

But this year we feel melancholic
Mood saddened by tragic events
We pause at this solstice moment
Praying that fortune may have turned

Ahead the prospect of summer warmth
And autumn’s gold and russet tints
But winter’s spectre lurks beyond
Vaguely threatening summer’s calm

Ken Fisher

For Father’s Day

For Father’s Day

Father’s day has come round once more
The shops are filled with cards galore
It’s time to think of poor old dad
An occasion when we should be glad

‘Cause Dads don’t always get best press
And maybe they fail, we must confess
But most Dads do their very best
When often they are quite hard pressed

Sometimes these days it’s sad to say
The Dad has had to be away
Family problems causing separation
And Dad might well feel desperation

Thank goodness many Dads are still around
Shared parenting can still be found
And along with Mum they are a team
Ensuring for all a great regime

But what e’r may be the situation
Let us today make affirmation
That Dads do matter, we believe
Give thanks for all that they achieve

So let’s ensure this Father’s Day
We take some time to loudly say
We love you Dad, we won’t be shy
To tell you, you’re a real great guy!

Ken Fisher

 

The Bee

The Bee

 

We have a lot to learn from the humble bee
Who works ever so hard for you and me
Their principal role is pollination
Which is vital to the crops that feed our nation

Most of the bees are social creatures
Being together is a quite distinct feature
Up to 50 thousand Honey bees inside a hive
It’s amazing they all manage to stay alive

Bumble bees also like to congregate
But apparently they want a bit more space
So we find about 150 under their roof
Perhaps they prefer to be somewhat aloof

Both types of bees depend on their Queen
Who lays all the eggs, this seems rather obscene
But thanks to the efforts of that sovereign so fertile
All that hard work of the drones is not futile

Indeed I am told that one third of all the food that we eat
Relies on the pollination of bees – that’s surely some feat
One out of every three bites that we munch
Is thanks to the bees – if we lose them, then comes the crunch!

So my message is this, if you hear a bee’s buzz
Don’t be tempted to create undue fuss
For on that bee depends your food supply
Better it lives to ensure you don’t die!

Ken Fisher

Fifteen Miles on the John Muir Way

Fifteen Miles on the John Muir Way
[North Berwick to Dunbar]


Routemarker – the John Muir Way

In the shadow of Berwick Law we set our easterly course
A happy band of ramblers, eyes fixed on the road ahead
Steady is the pace, chat comes easy, spirits high
As we tread this walkway opened to commemorate
The 100th Anniversary of the death of John Muir

Our first objective is to reach East Linton and the Preston Mill
An ancient structure , still preserved, for grinding grain to flour
Powered by a waterwheel fed by the speeding flow in the lade
An energy efficient method – so long as the rainfall does not fail!


Preston Mill

Enlightened and refreshed by our visit to the mill
We continue our rural ramble, encouraged by brightening skies
Through open country our journey takes us inexorably toward the sea
But not before meandering through fields of wheat bordered by woodland

Among the joys of walking with friends is the chance to
Tune in to the natural world around. The birdsong,
The flowers and trees of infinite variety, the differing landscape
And times of animated conversation or moments of silence and solitude
To wonder at creation and breathe it in to our jaded souls

We eventually enter the John Muir Country Park at Belhaven Bay
This extensive sandy inlet changes with the tides’ ebb and flow
And as our eyes are drawn outwards from the shore line
We catch a view of the steep volcanic sides of the Bass Rock
Featured in works of fiction, including Catriona by R L Stevenson


The Bass Rock

And so our steady progress continues, our faces weathered
By the changing conditions, the cobwebs of the city blown away
Our hearts inspired by the heady mixture of fresh air
And recognition of the beauty of life, we press on gratefully

As we near the town of Dunbar we skirt a verdant golf course
Then the coastal path reveals vistas below of the rocky shoreline
Notwithstanding our weariness, we have to descend
And then ascend several stone stairways which brought back childhood memories
Of scenes in some of the adventures of the intrepid Rupert Bear

At last, like pilgrims on a journey, we reach our final destination
Weary but contented. Happy to have completed the distance
Happy to have communed with nature, happy to have been in
Each others’ company. Grateful to share in  John Muir’s legacy

Ken Fisher

 


Dunbar

Drenched

Drenched

Surely it can’t last long. But a few minutes is enough
Cotton T-shirt soaked through, Shoes saturated
I didn’t come prepared. This is meant to be summer
At least it might please the flotilla of ducks

What began as a gentle meander through the park
Suddenly transformed into a battle with the elements
Blue skies overwhelmed by foreboding dark clouds
The galvanizing flash followed by the distant rumble
Where to run for shelter? – definitely not that chestnut tree!

I don’t know what the chances are of being struck
But this is not the time for statistical speculation
I feel I have entered on a game of Russian roulette
Do I run for cover or trust myself to the open ground?

A few more electric pyrotechnics, echoed by muffled roars
The torrential downpour siphoned into a mighty spate
No escape. Grass, flower, trees all inundated
And then a strange calm descended, and the sun peeps coyly through

Leaving the forces of nature to restore my composure
I found myself content to sit on an abandoned bench
And gradually, as steam rises from asphalt paths and verdant grass
Evaporation transforms my soul like the waters of baptism

Ken Fisher

 

Midges

Midges

 

It’s official, the hot news is newly broken
From the sleep of winter this little beastie’s woken
And there is little doubt it is a bigger menace
Than the eponymous comic kid known to us as Dennis

Apparently there are billions of these tiny little creatures
Which of summer, in our Highlands, is a distinctive feature
Their thirst for our blood is completely unremitting
Which sometimes forced defeated visitors into quickly quitting

Press reports tell us the female midge is the one to blame
As she seeks out her victims and sets their skin aflame
‘Cause midges have decided that we make a tasty meal
Caring little for the itch and lumps, and how they make us feel

These beasts force us to look for methods ourselves to protect
Our face and arms and legs and other parts you wont expect
For they are very persistent in their determined hot pursuit
And to the consequences they simply don’t give a hoot!

There is no simple remedy for this annual intimidating plague
Pundits offer creams and sprays but on success they are quite vague
Perhaps we simply must reconcile ourselves to the midge invasion
Pleading with visitors still to come, by all powers of persuasion

Ken Fisher

Dawn Chorus

Dawn Chorus

Today there was a celebration
Of music heard throughout the nation
When birds awoke from restful sleep
As in field and tree their watches keep

Around the globe as light returns
Each line of longitude in turn
From darkest night to radiant day
The gloom of night is chased away

Earth’s eyelid is slowly teased awake
As rays of light announce daybreak
Consciousness returns to the globe
From the shroud of night disrobed

And gradually with illumination
Awakes the avian congregation
And as the dawn chorus our ears caress
It’s melodius sounds our hearts will bless

This harmony surrounds our world
Like in each land a flag unfurled
And we awake to this new day
All dark foreboding cast away

Ken Fisher

Spring in The Trossachs

Spring in The Trossachs

Nature’s beauty revealed in all its glory, sensation uninhibited
Delights for the eye and ear and nose, even touching the heart
A whole spectrum of colour, bird-song of every pitch and rhythm
Sweeping panoramas to trigger our emotional response

This tract of Scottish land might be mistaken for Swiss grandeur
Its steep rising hillsides scale the heights above the lochs
Lomond, Katrine, Archray, Ard, and Venachar
And even our home grown lake, Menteith

Here forest tracks and lochside paths meander
Revealing at each turn of the way some secret of the wild
At springtime new life emerges from the gloom of winter
And everywhere the stirrings of rebirth

Ben A’an and Venue rub shoulders with Ben Lomond
To dominate the skyline o’er the glens
Romantic tales surround Rob Roy the outlaw
John Ruskin and Millais captivated by this terrain

The geography and geology yet another source of fascination
And history has added its own insights to the tale
Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scot
All play their part in the allure which is the Trossachs

Ken Fisher

Threats from On High

Threats From On High

Apparently space has become a junk-yard
There is so much up aloft it has become a hazard
Detritus is now measured by some thousands of tons
Far greater than picked up by Steptoe and Son

Apart from threats from comets and asteroids
Space is no longer just an empty void
Old satellites, spent rockets, and defunct devices
Are floating out there in a variety of sizes

The planets of our ancient solar system
Over eons of time have been a victim
Of impacts small and others much greater
Resulting in some quite enormous craters

It is claimed that the dinosaur population
An asteroid impact led to annihilation
So you can see that objects falling from space
Might well do the same for our human race

And the reality is that the risk is increasing
With all the debris that we are releasing
And although these devices are put to good use
We must find a way to stop all this abuse

So technologists are conducting endless research
A method of disposal is part of their search
That after useful life junk might self-destruct
Or enter safe orbits thus humans won’t hurt!

However perhaps we should now all take heart
It’s been reported that a used rocket’s come back to earth
And in future we hope to recycle this kind of device
Which to the environmentalists must bring delight

Ken Fisher

Squaring the Books

Squaring the Books

 

It’s that time of year when the books have to be ‘squared’
The results of the business are thereby laid bare
The initial  task is to prepare the Trial Balance
An exercise which by itself is no mean challenge

All bookkeepers already  know that for every Debit
There has to be another corresponding Credit
If by chance any are found to be missing
We have an unacceptable condition

Throughout the year we have monitored Cash Flow
If we haven’t done that our success we’ll torpedo
And regard for our Budget is quite fundamental
To ensure no problems have become incremental

Of course the Trial Balance is just the first stage
Not providing all the facts for success to be gauged
We need to proceed to the P & L or I & E account
To reach that, there are problems we must first surmount

Yet many adjustments have to be considered
Prepayments and Charges still to be rendered
The obscure complexities of annual Depreciation
Capital and Revenue expenditure and Asset Valuation

The Statement of Financial Activities will show how we’ve done
And hopefully nothing serious has gone wrong
Enough money to pay our Creditors as due
No Bad Debts to get us in a stew!

All the facts need to be drawn from the daily Ledgers
And aggregated together for us then to consider
And next we can channel the results of this trawl
Into the Balance Sheet which will then reveal all

Of course every Transaction needs to be classified
If we get that wrong others we assuredly misguide
The decision to retain Profit can Stakeholders upset
Keep the Shareholders happy, a much safer bet

Fortunately in this modern age we’ve got rid of the pen
Fancy software now employed by all our businesses
And computer systems process all the raw facts
Leaving us to do little except VAT returns and Tax

So when you receive the Audited Report and Accounts
Please consider them well and don’t simply denounce
Think of all that hard work that is contained in those pages
And you must then appreciate the Accountants’ enormous charges!

Ken Fisher

P&L = Profit and Loss   I&E =  Income and Expenditure

Clocks Go Forward

Clocks Go Forward [Sunday 26 March 2017]

 

The days are getting longer, more light to bring us cheer
Threats of dark stormy winter nights, begin to disappear
Spring has come, our clocks must be advanced
At 2AM we lose an hour that our daylight be enhanced

The loss of that hour surely will be compensated
Afternoon pleasures not so readily truncated
Hobbies and pastimes in the great outdoors
Twilight no longer threatens, more leisure time is ours

As we follow the command that we all now Spring Forward
Just as in October we duly did Fall Backward
Let’s welcome the prospect of summer days ahead
And not regret the loss of one sweet hour in bed

The cycle of the year to our life brings order
Each season occupying its own allotted quarter
The changing of the clock part of that settled plan
Pity that no-one has told our friend the Weatherman!

Ken Fisher