Scallops . . .


At Kirkcudbright quayside there was a large pile of scallop shells being shunted about by a digger. Subsequently Facebook informed me that they were on their way to Holland where they will be turned into chicken feed.

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Waiting . . .

Another bright, sunny day. My laptop is installing yet another Windows update. Our neighbour, has had people over at her house apparently discussing jobs to be done, a book parcel is due to arrive, and so is ET to “do” us in lieu of our usual lady this week c.11.00 am.

ET arrived as bright and cheery as usual and by the volume of chat coming up the stairs both parties found it a stimulating encounter.

In the old days, when the world was very young, before we had criminals in Government (or if we did we pretended not to notice) we had firms and businesses that knew their job and knew that the customer was the important base of their operations and that if you alienated your customers they would find a better firm and go to it. Not so today. The firm is all important and we the customers must do what we are told, and if we try to move elsewhere we find that all other firms are operating in the same way and there is no escape. This morning I have spent a good hour trying to get myself into
the Santander share view account. I don’t want to have to make use of the account as it has given me nothing but grief since I allowed them to get the better of me and to persuade me to set one up. Now, as is increasingly the case, they are threatening to send out only online information about one’s dealings and to do away with paper altogether. So, if you don’t possess a gadget which will connect you to the world wide Web you are cut adrift and left to eke out an existence wherever your storm tossed little bark is cast up.

I eventually found a user name I had registered in the past (not the one they quoted as being mine in today’s correspondence incidentally) so I have written all this down – never mind the hackers – and from now on I will have to try to understand their gobbledygook on line instead of on paper.

All this because I have some shares in Santander. Many years ago my parents had an account or accounts with the one time Abbey National Building Society and those accounts eventually came my way when my parents died. Then the awful Thatcher woman persuaded all these old mutually owned societies, existing for the benefit of their members remember, to float themselves on the stock exchange and go public. Mrs Thatcher’s blind belief in the magic of the “market” told her that in this way the societies would be more profitable, her Conservative colleagues would play the market to their own advantages and her position would be correspondingly strengthened. Well, as we know, they stabbed her in the back as is their wont and all the ideas and benefits of mutuality, morality and self help went out of the window, which is odd as once upon a time I think the Conservative philosophy would have favoured this idea of thrift and people hauling themselves up by their own bootstraps – the self made man concept. Now it is all hedge funds, money of unknown provenance, the lining of one’s off shore pockets to the detriment of your country, the creation of multi billionaires who operate in the grey areas on the edges of legality, and the rest of you must make shift as best you can.

My spouse has purchased Michelle Obama’s book “Becoming” and it arrived today. In the course of its delivery the Postie (a next door neighbour) offered to take some outgoing mail which he spotted on our window sill. We said we did not know he would or could do that, but he did.

Baxi Bermuda

In town later we called in at Mr K’s plumbing shop and commissioned him to come and set about the removal of our existing boiler come room heater – a “Baxi Bermuda” – and it’s replacement by a combi condensing boiler. Thus will entail the removal of the existing water storage tanks and, hopefully, will free up a good deal of cupboard space in that bedroom. Then on the living room hearth we will have some small electric heater with a cheerful glow to pep up the central heating if it gets very cold in the winter. Personally, I would like a wood burning stove so that if a bad winter should cut off electricity and so disable the central heating one could keep warm independently.

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Sunny Side Up . . .

Sunny Sunday Morning in Kirkcudbright

Beautiful morning. Blue sky, small areas of cirrus. Sheep (I think) grazing on the green hill across the river. Ate my porage with the kitchen door open as it was almost too warm otherwise. The kitchen window faces east so the kitchen has been warming up since sunrise.

Began filling and planting my new alpine bowl from Heathhall Garden Centre – an Errington Reay product in salt glazed earthenware. Put the remains of a bag of compost on the vegetable bed and added more home made compost from our own bin. Also began earthing up the potatoes.

Whilst out doing Tesco shopping I called in at Brambles and bought two “Alicante” tomato plants and got them in the ground in the greenhouse quickly. I followed Monty Don’s advice and buried them deeply.

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More thoughts . . .

Potatoes sprouting above the soil.

Spuds is up.

No matter how many gardening programmes we watch (Beechgrove from Aberdeen and Gardeners World from Herefordshire) my experience at the age of 85 is that it is very seldom about planning exciting garden layouts full of interesting, unusual or exotic plants. It is mainly the keeping of things tidy, weeding and any alterations or improvements have to be done piecemeal and when time and weather permit. Of all these, time, fitting things in, and weather, days or weeks of being unable to get out (unless one is a glutton for punishment) are the two governing factors. I have seen our neighbour, who gardens for enjoyment and a living outside working in waterproofs, in the cold, and although I admire him tremendously I know that is not for me.

This morning I started on lifting the black plastic membrane which has covered a plot in our garden since before we came, and this is now our second full summer, or two and a half given that we moved in in the August of 2017. That meant the removal and storage of a great number of bricks and edging stones which had been weighing it down against the winter gales. And that in turn meant that if I wanted to store them behind our summer house an energetically growing rose had to be dealt with to avoid being ripped to death (roses attack me on sight). The rose pruned and tied back I was able to get on with the job and ultimately achieved success. But in the meantime I had to shift sundry and heavy filled plant pots for my OH plus other minor but time consuming jobs.

All was done eventually and I was able to plant out some beetroot plants from Heathhall and some cheerful African Marigolds which I bought from the Spar shop in Gatehouse of Fleet. So, not everything I had hoped for done, but enough for a feeling of satisfaction and an aching back.

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Europe Day

1. European parliamentary election papers arrived today. Filled mine in for the Scottish National Party. Alyn Smith is very good with his newsletters. It also happens to be Europe Day, a day which passes totally unnoticed in this isolationist and disunited kingdom of ours. Having said which, Scotland has made a point of welcoming newcomers and, of course, has the history of “the auld alliance”.

2. Out in search of bluebells.  We had heard or read about somewhere near Creetown where a wooden hut had been built – pretty vague – so I once again searched the web and found out what is was and where it was, and we set off. Balloch Community Woodland lies on the Balloch Burn, but from the motorist’s point if view it is on the Old Military Road. We found the wooden Roundhouse and the wildlife ponds which began life as curling ponds, but only a few bluebells. We explored for a while then went on into Freetown to the Gem Museum cafe, which, joking aside is a little gem of a place. We each had a big bowl of pea and ham soup which we learnt was made by one of the ladies on duty.

Then we went along the Gatehouse road across the hills to Castramon Wood which was just a carpet of bluebells stretching in all directions. I was able to explore quite way into the wood (for me). Then into Gatehouse itself for some groceries at the Spar shop, and so home.

Cooked myself red chilli beans and haggis for my tea. The haggis was of good quality and flavour despite being a cheap line branded Spar.

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VE Day . . . 74 years ago !

Back in 1945 as May progressed it was obvious that the war on the western front must end soon but it seemed to drag on endlessly. We spent the final month digesting the horrors of Belsen. It seemed as though horror was building to some sort of climax.  Eventually of course “Victory in Europe” was declared, the German surrender was accepted and everyone wondered what had happened to Hitler.  I do not recollect any great celebrations where we lived. There was more of a feeling that we had been holding up a very heavy weight for a long time, and at long last had been able to put it down, and now all people wanted to do was to sit down and have a rest. There was this uncomfortable feeling that we wanted to behave as though the war was over, and our daily lives no doubt improved because tis indeed was so in that we could expect no more air raids or V1s or V2s, but yet there was the uncomfortable remembrance that in the Far East the war was far from over and now troops and materiel must be sent out there to finish that job.  The dripping of the atomic bombs in August was greeted with great relief – a mixture of half knowing that something new and terrible and destructive had been invented, and gladness that it had because it stopped the whole Japanese business dead in its tracks. And we have lived with that conundrum ever since, and it won’t go away any time soon. Someone has said (who was it ?) that the nuclear weapon had been invented and you can’t uninvent it.  And so we and future generations have to live with it.

* * * *

Today’s doings . . .

1. Rain at first, brighter as the day wore on, but light showers continued.

2. Political party leaflets coming through the door and going into the recycling box in the garage.

3. Very little news about Brexit, but glad to see that Full Fact picks up the lies told by MPs and other “influencers ” and states the facts, if indeed there are facts to state. As far as our alleged political leaders are concerned they are best ignored. Most of the Government’s ministers have told lies over the past three years and must be discounted as honest and reliable men or women. What a state we are in ! –  and the EU leaders, parliament and the remaining states know this to be so and wonder at it.   How did it come about ?

I read today that Mrs. May is going to represent the UK (with others) at the upcoming VE commemorations.  A more unsuitable, unrepresentative person I cannot imagine. Prince Charles is going and that is very suitable, but there is no one on the political scene fit to be there apart from one or two outstanding back benchers.

4. I note from Facebook that we are to have three new Bishops in the C of E – and all are women. Shrewsbury, Stepney and Huntingdon. So we are getting on steadily. This website says we are now up to 22 female bishops. Not bad, eh ?

5. Yesterday we visited Hazel’s emporium in Castle Douglas and chose a bookcase to stand in our hallway – £25. But the car was full at the back then, so today we went and collected it. With the back seats tipped forward it went in easily and we brought it home and gave it a dose of “Pledge” which cleaned it up well.

6. I ordered some alcohol free beer from St Peter’s brewery in Suffolk and it was delivered today. Tried it at lunchtime and it was quite good, much better than the last lot which was mainly brewed in Germany and the Czech Republic. The German beer was mainly wheat beer, the Czech was the nearest to a UK style. Today’s delivery was St Peter’s Original, but there is a St Peter’s Golden too and I might give that a whirl. Original is described as being malty, while Golden is hoppy.

7. Also today someone called APC tried to deliver something that needed a signature, but if course we were enjoying ourselves in Castle Douglas. So via the wonders (mysteries) of the internet I have fixed delivery for Friday next. I presume this is our missing bag of compost.

8. The new royal baby is going to be Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

9. Tomorrow the plan involves going to Castramon Wood to see bluebells which are now plentiful and colouring the roadside woods all around here.

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07 MAY 2019, 10:34
1. Appointment arrived for Audiology – 1.00 pm on Thursday 16th May next.
2. Filled in a long questionnaire from the Bank of Scotland. Most of it uncontroversial, but I stated my opinions of firms who assume everyone can deal with everything on the telephone. Pointed out that Action on Hearing Loss say that there are about 11 million people in UK who suffer from it – about 1 in 6 of the population. They are simply cut off from communication and expected to get on with it. No form of written correspondence is expected, and with the banks, they close branches willy nilly. A policy of “shut up and die” !

3. Took a load of recycling (paper, cardboard, glass, tins and plastic bottles) to the collection point in Castle Douglas. The plastic was in the nature of an experiment as we have never known what they would take. I tried to find out when we moved here but got the impression that the common plastic milk container, of which we produce about one per day, was not taken, so we have been putting them in the wheelie bin ever since. But the man said yes to not only milk containers but other plastic bottles as well so from now on we will save the lot.

When we arrived at the depot cars were queuing to get in because there was some activity with a large lorry in the yard presumably collecting stuff, so after a longish wait we went off to Tesco where amazingly there was another queue. So we gave that up too.

Our biggest successes were two visits to the artisan bakery which is situated in a busy, narrow street with double yellow lines on both sides making parking well nigh impossible, and going in to Hazel’s emporium and finding a nice little bookcase for JAS.

We returned home and ate half a quiche (broccoli and mushroom) from the above mentioned bakery of which the pastry was by far the nicest part.

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Windows Update 1809

Windows update 1809 downloaded and installed itself today with no trouble at all, and did so remarkably quickly compared with the travails of the past. I cannot find anything new or different but to have a working laptop is pretty good after some of Microsoft’s previous efforts.

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Running home


We were up at 7.00 am, washed, dressed and at the car by 8.20 am. A bright sunny day. Our granddaughter joined us in her running kit and guided by the sat nav we set off for Cramond. We had to pass through one of those modern industrial estate areas where there is a complex multiplicity of traffic lights, roundabouts, and white lane lines trying to control what the planners have allowed to become an out of control situation. But we made it and found our way into Cramond village but no sign of other runners. However the granddaughter soon found another participant from whom she discovered we were half an hour too early. After some discussion, and the commencement of the arrival of other people we left her too it and took ourselves off to South Queensferry where we pottered about, took some photos and waited for the cafe to open. We then spotted tbat it was in fact already open, and indeed small tourist buses were already about, so we went in to have a coffee and use the toilets. Then it was time to return to Cramond, pick up GD, and go back to the hotel. We had booked a late breakfast the night before and were well looked after. We sat and chatted for some time, then settled the bill for us and for us all, said our goodbyes and left. I had decided that we might return home via the Moffat road, the A701 but this meant going along the Edinburgh City Bypass which is another example of the many failures of our road planning and building in this country. Far too much traffic for the capacity of the road and its junctions. It is foolishness to build a bypass road to take through traffic and then (for the sake of cheapness no doubt) press it into use to take local traffic as well. Result – over crowding, and traffic reduced to a stop and start crawl.

When we came to leave the bypass and join the A701 it was the same story, traffic clogging up the intersection roundabout because of traffic lights a few yards further on trying to control another busy over burdened junction. Nevertheless we made our way south until we cleared Penequik and then got into open country. Very pleasanf scenery which became grander as we neared Moffat, passing the watershed and the source of the Tweed, an descended into Moffat which we found to be quite busy cafe wise. I note on Facebook that there was a motor cycle and scooter gathering of some sort which passed through Moffat which probably accounts for it.

The run home through Dumfries to Kirkcudbright was uneventful but pleasant in the late afternoon sunshine.

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To Edinburgh

We were packing and loading the car am, when Stephen McAdam came to collect his gear and that is the job finished, and we are well satisfied with it.

Off to Edinburgh soon after 12.00, stopped in Moffat for coffee and a scone, then on via A74 and A70 to Norton House Hotel. Met our granddaughter and chatted until dinner time then more talk over dinner. Most of this I didn’t hear so I shall have to enquire about it all when we get home.

I thought the standard of the meal was high except for the sweet which was ice cream. It had a good texture, but no flavour.  The starter I had was haggis , neeps and tatties messed about with a bit (chefs can never let anything alone do they ?), but lovely flavours and a good sauce which I wanted to remember – but entirely now forget. Then a piece of baked cod on some vegetablesand sauce which was lovely.

Tomorrow we are to take her to Cramond where she is to take part in a run, but I have no idea what it is all about, except that it seems to be something special.

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