Wooster bosh . . .

The new combi boiler is now in place, and doing a good job. The odd thing is how much the water flow from certain taps and in the shower has improved. This is apparently because of the fact that we had the old original gravity flow system which had an insufficient head of water. The combi boiler runs off directly the main supply so we get mains pressure everywhere and it practically knocks you over in the shower.

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A Hole in the Wall . . .

Up at 7.00 am, showered, dressed, car moved, garage opened Mr Kerr arrived soon after 8..00 am and set to work. First job was to remove the old gas fire and water heater, which is now (11.20 am) done. The work had moved upstairs to where the water tanks are and ominous bonks and bangs resound. There are visits to the gas meter outside too, because there must be a gas supply made to the upstairs bedroom for the new combi boiler.

By tea time, the new boiler was in place, but not yet connected to pipework etc. so we exist on cold water until the job is finished. Also, no heating, but the weather is fine and we don’t need it at present. The boiler flue had been installed going up through the roof. It comes out on the north side of the existing chimney which hopefully is a good place as it will be protected somewhat from the strong winds and rain that come up from the south and south west. And I have collected a quantity of wood and plywood for “recycling”.

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Wigtown and the Isle of Whithorn

The plant nursery at Wigtown with the view down the bay.
The Steam Packet Inn at the Isle of Whithorn.
The tide turning and the harbour refilling.
There were six swans a swimming by the far shore.
Awaiting the tide.
Isle of Whithorn.
The Church of Scotland Parish Church on the extreme right.
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Minty Moments . . .

After yesterday’s kerfuffle with the Windows 10 update here we are back on good old Linux Mint – Cinnamon – showing the world that there is life beyond Microsoft.

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Windows Wobbles . . .

The great depression anticipated by the Met Office seems to have passed us by with no more rain or wind than we get at any other time – less in fact. At 3.00 pm we have had a sunny morning with occasional spit spats of rain on the window, and as I write a dark patch of cloud is making its way north to south but only producing a few drops of rain at most. The most annoying thing today is that this laptop announced that there is a “feature update” for Windows 10 available – number 1903. “1903” means it should have been ready in March (2019, third month) but it wasn’t and is only now being rolled out as of 21st May. Poor old Microsoft just cannot get these things right. On “Windows Update” the availability of the update was shown as of 11.16 am. I tried the standard update procedure which allegedly downloaded the update but stuck at 99%. After waiting for two hours or more I downloaded the Windows Update Assistant at 12.52 pm, which has started the whole process all over again and has as I write (3.12 pm) just informed me that we are at 100% and ready to go

Quite why these updates are so slow and so troublesome I do not know. Linux Mint updates itself regularly and if I get a bit behind may take 30 minutes max but is usually much quicker. I can see and appreciate that Microsoft had many customers to deal with and many computers and combinations of installed programmed to allow for, whereas Linux Mint had far fewer, but if Microsoft wants to have a big market (almost a monopoly) it must also find ways and means of keeping its customers happy. I have a laptop running on Linux Mint purely because some years back one of the Windows updates crashed it comprehensively. Fortunately I was able to use another machine to download the Linux Mint ISO and then run it on the trashed Windows machine. And it’s been a Linux machine ever since.

I think the internet and the world wide web are marvellous ideas with great potential for good. But at the same time evil people will and do use it for their own ends, the programmes and operating systems we gave are fragile and need constant maintenance and the actual infrastructure of cables and servers is too vulnerable to accidental damage or deliberate attack to make it all a safe, secure and robust system. It is a useful adjunct, buy it is not a mainstream system and it is wrong that people who do not have computers, smartphones etc are penalised.

It is now 3.37 pm, the updating has just finished (I wrote a good deal of the above on my mobile phone) and from what I ave seen of Microsoft’s “good news” there is very little in this update of use or interest to me. There may be technical improvements that I cannot see and know nothing about, but user wise – no change. So, 4 hours of worry and wasted time. Thank you Microsoft.

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A Cloudy Outlook . . .

Our wandering boys landed in San Francisco about 2.50 am BST.

Here now overcast after a sunny start. Spring Fling weekend now on, so it will be a shame if the weather turns iffy.

Most comment about Mrs.May’s departure that I have seen on Facebook, Twitter and in the Guardian, is of the”good riddance to bad rubbish ” variety with not a few references to the great harm she has done to many people during her time at the Home Office and after. One or two valiant souls endeavouring not to speak ill of the dead point out her tears as evidence of hitherto unsuspected human feelings, while others mention her hard work and persistence in the face of difficulty. But this does not convince me, stubbornness can be a virtue in certain circumstances but in her case was more like stupidity and an inability to change her mind when faced with new situations and fresh evidence. She ended up a bit like Hitler in his bunker (who allegedly was ) moving imaginary divisions about as Germany collapsed above him. She also seemed to have an invincible sense of her own fitness for the job over against all others. A sort of Messiah complex, and I suspect she will go off into the shadows with a permanent sense of being the misunderstood and rejected one who alone could have saved her country. She spoke of compromise, but all too often it seemed to be the sort of compromise which is that you adopt my view as given. As I have already written, the Conservatives now have to rake around among the dross that is left to find the least worse, least harmful specimen, to prop up as the next puppet leader. We are in a dreadful state and although I am a firm believer in the idea of a European Union and our membership of it, I now begin to think that General de Gaulle was right and that we are not fit to belong to such a thing. The pariah and laughing stock of Europe.

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Where to next ?

FI863 on its way from Keflavik to San Francisco.
FI863 crossing Greenland. Flying a Great Circle route.

Our wandering boys are on their way home from Iceland to Sacramento via San Francisco. Their route takes them over the desolate expanses if Greenland and northern Canada. No place to attempt a forced landing !

Mrs. May has set her date of resignation as Leader of the conservative Party as the 7th June 2019. Then we have the farce of the Conservative Party deciding who our next Prime Minster will be. Elected as an unknown MP somewhere or other he or she will not be put to the country as its Leader. For the uninitiated overseas reader, this is what we laughingly call “Democracy”. And who will that next leader be ? The media are pushing Boris Johnson, an accomplished serial liar who began his career by being sacked from the staff of The Times newspaper for making up a story, and went on to make it his chosen way of life at The Telegraph. He has been married more than once, has a number of children by various mothers and we know of at least one terminated pregnancy of a lady to whom he was not married. And if this horrible, despicable man is not the chosen one, who will be ? There is no one at Westminster in the current House of Commons who is Prime Minister material by virtue of ability or age, and I do not see anyone who could be levered out of the House of Lords as they did with Alec Douglas Home all those years ago. I think we are in for lean times, and I would not rule out civil disturbance as the polarities between left and right, leave and remain show no signs of breaking down. Indeed, leave or remain is a binary choice if you discount things like the Norwegian arrangement, and I do not see how you can compromise on that. I shall be at the barricades on the Remain side provided I don’t have to walk too far to get there.

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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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