Thursday, 22 October 2015

Creative Writing:  “Feathers in the Wind” by James

Tall cirrus clouds berthed across the sky,

Mustered a memory for me to see in my mind’s eye,

Imagery of Tall ships standing by majestically,

At lee, facing an open serene sea,

Embracing hues of azurine, gilded with sunset marquetry.

Diverging filaments, like gossamer, cast broadside,

Askew and slack, of different tack,

Reminded of the vessels rigging tied,

Made ready, for the oncoming tide,

To make sail, by the gentle breeze that prevailed.

The calm Autumn evening, balm and warm,

Had that perfect peace that can precede a storm,

When the tranquillity was gently stirred.

From a distance, a babbling could be heard,

A gaggle, gaggling rapidly in syncope.

The natural sound, fathomable immediately.

Scanned to locate the advancing precipitating garble,

Announcing the seasons ebb, the forthcoming fall,

Numerous dwarf, sun dappled, silhouettes in a sea of sky,

Voyaging high,

In characteristic symmetry,

Forming a distinctive V,

Bore steadily,

Starboard, off the North Sea,

Bow bearing South Easterly.

Manoeuvring with grace and craft,

Alternating formation positions, midship, stern and aft,

They kept pace, the configuration close and steady,

Each one winging with intent, perfectly, ably,

Riding the current and uplifting eddy.

Swiftly the zenith was gained, the gabbling waned,

To solitary chords,

Soulful tones, in accord,

As though appealing, not to falter, or stray,

Impelling to alter course as necessary, to make headway,

Away from the dying sun being reborn far far away.

They coasted leeward on their lengthy odyssey,

Until afar, too far to see,

Only to hear their mellowing calls drift and fade …

Launching a memory of chanting conveyed,

With solemnity at close of day …

Giving way to a hushed ambience, harbouring sentimentality.

Pondered their vulnerable intrinsic existence,

A metaphor for life’s transience, indwelling endurance.

Contemplation flowed with rippling reminiscence,

Casting off thoughts, given headway in the silence,

To mindfully drift, like feathers in the wind.

We are grateful to James for him allowing us to share his poem with you.  He is learning with us in Cummings Park, Aberdeen. 
Sessions every Thursday, Cummings Park Community Flat from 11am until 1pm.

Ink Pots, Pens and Biros'; oh and outside toilets!

I remember we had to take turns at being the ink monitor at primary school in the late fifties, your job was to fill the ink pots set into the desk each day from a big bottle of ink with tubes coming out of the top. You put your finger over one of the tubes to start and stop the flow of ink. We had to practice writing on special sheet of paper, three lines to a row, using nibbed pens which you frequently dipped into the ink. It was broad strokes downwards and thin strokes upwards to produce copper plate writing. It was probably the same way my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had been taught to write, so not much had changes over the years.

Miss Clark, our teacher sought permission to introduce biros pens into the class. I recall this being quite contentious and she had to obtain approval from the Head Mistress. She bought the pens in bulk and we had to get money from our parents to buy our pen, I'm sure she paid for many pupils pens herself as for quite a few it was unaffordable! I remember being told that biros had been developed during WWII for pilots/navigators etc. to use as fountain pens wouldn't flow on aeroplanes in flight. We though we were the Bees Knees, never mind computers and tablets we had our own biros', other classes didn't.

You couldn't write copper plate style with a biro but it didn't smudge and blot as you wrote.

Do you remember the outside toilets at Ferryhill School? They were barabaric, no roofs and for most of the year freezing cold and wet. You only went for a wee if you absolutely had to!

Happy days and not that long ago either.

Thursday, 8 October 2015


The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, tweeted at the 2012 London Olympics, “This is for everyone.”. Well, we at Silver City Surfers believe the Internet is for everyone too.  We do our best to help older people in Aberdeen & the North East of Scotland to get online and gain basic computer skills. Our philosophy aims to help and support older people to use modern technologies to connect to their loved ones and the World Wide Web, thus combating loneliness and isolation. These new skills can help keep older people stimulated and independent in today’s digital world.

Beginning in 2005, the charity, Silver City Surfers, has moved forward teaching computer and internet skills from desktops to laptops to tablets. The core strength of The Surfers is our dedicated and talented volunteers, both hospitality and tutors.  Without these special people sharing their knowledge and expertise with others in a couthy manner, so many would still be excluded from the freedom of the Internet and valuable online interactions.

Silver City Surfers run five weekly Internet cafes across the city where older people can drop in and receive one-to-one tuition on whatever aspect of technology they wish. These are free sessions. Learning these new skills is driven by the learner, at the learner’s pace.  Making their visit a social affair is equally as important as teaching and so, we serve some great refreshments after their tutor session where they can sit round the table, natter away and make new friends.  We are very lucky that our hospitality volunteers are not only sociable but incredible bakers! We can report, the Great British Bake Off is alive and well and in full swing at Silver City Surfers! 

Two of our weekly sessions are outreach sessions in Seaton and Northfield.  It is always heartening to see how well these sessions are appreciated by the learners in these communities. Once a month we hold a very popular motivational talk at Aberdeen Science Centre (Satrosphere) in Aberdeen. These talks cover basics on different aspects of computing and the Internet. They offer a perfect introduction to technology for many older people. Attendees are often inspired to go further with their learning, which is exactly what we want them to do.  How inspiring these talks are was beautifully demonstrated by the story of one reluctant learner, Pam.  Pam happened to accompany her friend to one of these talks. At the end, she asked if she could learn how to use an iPad with us.  She had firmly rejected an iPad from her family, living in the States, a few months earlier, insisting she had no need for it. Things certainly changed quickly for Pam - she went from ‘zero to hero’ on an iPad in a very short space of time and now loves it! She has entered the world of Facebook recently and still comes to us for iPad tips and tricks. We also work on a highly successful intergenerational project wherein we facilitate technology and Internet learning between younger and older people within local primary and secondary schools, encouraging a cohesive community spirit.
Being a charity, fundraising is obviously very important to us, and Silver City Surfers has to strive to ensure we can support our activities. Funding comes from a variety of sources including local government organisations, individuals, local businesses to our volunteers running a charity shop for a week every year.  The majority of our funding currently comes from the Fairer Aberdeen Fund. 

The term ‘digital inclusion’ is bandied about a lot these days and everyone at Silver City Surfers is proud that we are doing something positive about that.  Berners-Lee still works hard ensuring that the web is accessible to all and so do we.