The NHS comes up trumps again . . .

Off to the erstwhile Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, now renamed the Mountainhall Treatment Centre, for a visit to the Audiology Department brought about by our move to Scotland.  The first thing we noticed was that there were plenty of empty spaces in the car park. And as we followed the signs to “Bay 1” there were very few people about and no one at all in the waiting area so we pitched up at the Audiology Reception window.  We had a short wait and were then ushered into a treatment room where a very nice person extracted the whole story of my hearing loss and ear troubles since childhood, gave me a hearing test, and said I would be issued with a new hearing aid, and that I might hear from them again in about 6 weeks !  A quite unexpected happenstance.

The hearing test was done by inserting wee tubes into my ear passages, not by using earphones as in the past.

This done, we reverted to daily living and braving the Dumfries end of the working day traffic, made our way to the big ALDI store, and partook of its wonders. Once home and unloaded we dined on House Special Chow Mein from the Canton House takeaway.

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Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud . . .

After a somewhat unproductive trip to Dalbeattie to check up on the arrival or non-arrival of a dining set we took ourselves off to Kippford and checked on the pubs there. The Anchor appeared to be closed, but the Mariner was open. We went in, were hospitably received and examined the “specials” board. He had one portion of haddock left which was bagged by me, and my wife went for the pork and mushrooms which she said was smashing. My haddock wasn’t bad either. We sat opposite a window and looked out at a sea of mud – it being low water.  We lamented not bringing our binoculars (as yet unpacked) and the Landlord appeared as if by magic and lent us a pair. There were flocks of widgeon at the water’s edge, and lapwings flying about – the most we have seen for a long time.  As we watched and ate, the tide began to make and the birds followed it upstream.

The small numbers of lapwings about now is a great contrast to 60 years ago.  At that time the airfield at which I was training was mowed regularly by contractors and great flocks of lapwings shunted themselves about as the mowers went circulated.  In those days I did not take much notice, but in retrospect I suppose they were after earthworms which perhaps came to the surface disturbed by the noise of the mowers and tractors.

(OS Map reproduced without permission !)

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A Cold Night . . .

A very cold night. At 8.15 am it was 0°C in our porch (double glazed, but no heating) and -5°C on the car thermometer when I cranked the engine into life. Later on, c.10.30 am, in the garage attached to the house, the thermometers read about 28°F and -2.5°C.

While I was out I called in at our local garage to get a new light bulb fitted and felt so sorry for the mechanic as he strruggled with the plastic clips with cold fingers. It always hurts so much when you bang cold fingers against something in the winter doesn’t it ?

People of my parents and grandparents age used to say that the cold winters were good because they killed all the bugs. Whether the bugs knew about this I don’t know as they appeared again each year when spring arrived.

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A Grand Day Out . . .

The weather forecast said fine and sunny but cold – and it was correct. After defrosting the car we set off for Port William where we had booked at table at “The Clansman” restaurant. The roads were frosty but dry except on the minor routes where standing water at the sides was completely solid. We arrived at The Clansman a bit early but they were not in the least put out and we were soon seated and being told what was on the menu. The potato and leek soup was exactly that because the evidence was there in the form of potato chunks and leek flesh. Very tasty. The roast of the day was chicken breast and I haven’t seen such chunky pieces of chicken for a long time. It was all I could do to finish mine, and my wife gave up on hers. They came with roast potatoes, baby sausages and stuffing, and nice vegetables served separately  – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and turnips or swedes (I couldn’t decide which). We then stuffed our selves on a meringue nest filled with cream, ice cream, and peaches and tottered out into the sunshine.

A stroll around the harbour area helped the digestion . . .

. . . but the cold soon forced us back into the car, in which we set off for the Isle of Whithorn. Passing Monreith golf course we stopped to look at the memorial to Gavin Maxwell – an otter perched on some rocks.

At the Isle of Whithorn the village hall has been refurbished and in addition to its hallish duties has a cafe, a shop and post – office so is a real village centre. By the time we arrived the cafe ladies were beginning to clear up, but they made us tea and coffee which we drank gratefully as they worked.

Palm trees on a freezing January day.
By this time the short winter day was ending so we set off for home and arrived before it got really dark, stopping only to buy milk on the way.
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A New Year Outing . . .

Garlieston

Not having been for an “outing” in recent weeks, the weather being not actually inclement, we took to the road. North westwards along the A75 to Newton Stewart where Sainsbury’s was open and we got a few essentials and made use of their toilets. (Essential for Oldies). Then on to Wigtown which was obviously well shut up and recovering from Hogmanay – or just enjoying a lie in ?
So, on again a mile or so to Bladnoch and into the Inn there ‘cos it had a sign outside saying “Lunch”. But, alas, this was an error and there was no lunch. But they were very keen to tell us on what days we would find lunch there, and furthermore rang the Harbour Inn at Garlieston to see what they were up to. “Open, Lunch served till 2.30pm, very busy” was the reply.  So, off again to Garlieston where we were hospitably received and found a table. We had an exceedingly good steak pie with peas and a choice of “sides” – I went for the chips, my wife for the spicy wedges. A good apple crumble followed with coffee and we tottered out in the fading afternoon and made our way home through the rain showers.
In the photo above, the Harbour Inn is indicated  by the orange coloured arrow.

 

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Windy Hogmanay . . .

Last night we had an amber warning for wind in these parts, damage to houses, debris on roads and so forth. By the time we got up it was a bit breezy but we seem to be intact. However, it must have been a bit stormy at some point as the windows are once again covered in salt and look a real mess. Downgraded now to a mere yellow.

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A Snowy Trip . . .

Had a snowy trip to the new Infirmary today. We got behind a tanker and he bowled along at 45mph splashing the slush out of the way and we were most grateful to him.
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The First Snow of Winter . . .

Snowed on the 8th December and had another less successful go on the 9th too.
Bright sunny days in between showers so not much lick for the local sledgers. Bit more depth and longer lasting snow up in the hills I expect.
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Mrs. May and her “Nation” – Part the Second

Having has a go at creating a pie chart a day or two ago about the EU Referendum – they didn’t teach this in schools in the early 1950s –  it occurred to me that if one is to talk about “the Nation” then that Nation should be the base for calculations. So the pie above represents the population of the UK in the year 2016 to the best of my Googling ability*.
The blue slice – some 19 million people and 29% of the population  –  shows those who could not vote because they were not on the electoral roll for whatever reason. Aha, you say, of course children cannot vote ! No, they cannot but they are so far as I know part of “the Nation” and when the rest of us make decisions we should be considering those children’s futures.
The mauve/purple slice shows those who could have voted, but chose not to. I must say here that that slice very nearly included me as I could see from many years ago that a referendum on EU membership was doomed to failure because very few people I spoke to had any idea of how it was set up, or why, or how it works. They were far from “ignorant” as many have claimed, simply uninformed or badly misinformed for many years beforehand. However, a sort of sixth sense made me feel that we were looking at the doom of decency here, so I voted and I voted “Remain”, and by gum, am I glad that I did.
The green slice shows the size of the “Remain vote and the brown slice that of the “Leave” vote.
The referendum was stated explicitly to be an information gathering exercise** and I took part in it on that understanding. A conscientious MP would see straight away that the voters in toto only represent about half the population, and then, further, that the Remain and Leave votes were about the same size. Had this ever been debated properly in the House of Commons we might have had some sort of programme to decide how to sort out this balance of opinion, but somebody somewhere, driven by we know not what or who, chose to regard the whole thing as a “first past the post” exercise and ever since then the leave voters*** have been quoted as being “the Nation” representing “the will of the people”.
* : The UK Population in 2016 was/is estimated to be c.65,640,000 people by the World Bank and others.
** : See the House of Commons Library briefing notes which are available on the web.
*** : About 26.5% of the UK Population.
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Things are just like they used to be . . .

One reads a great many criticisms of the the present day rail service, about lateness and over crowding.  Since I have not been on a train for several years I cannot really comment on the truth or otherwise of these remarks, but they put me in mind of my father who commuted to work from 1918 to 1958 mostly by train.
During the war years he travelled daily to and from Epsom by the No.93 bus, but when peace broke out the firm for whom he worked took itself back from its wartime dispersal in Epsom to its office in London on the Victoria embankment and he then commuted daily by the Southern Railway in its green electric trains from Worcester Park in Surrey to Waterloo Station in London.
At some period in those years a group of men used to congregate on the platform at Worcester Park always at the same spot because they knew that that was where the Guard’s van would draw up.  They then boarded the van and occupied it, standing I suppose, all the way to London.  Inevitably they got to know each other and my father told us of a man called “Chipperfield” (always surnames in those days) who was writing a book. I think I thought that real authors did not do things like commute daily to a job in London, so this must be a spare time hobby and he couldn’t possibly produce any sort of book which would be any good. (An insufferable child !)
My mother and I were somewhat surprised therefore when one day my father produced the book the cover of which is shown above, and with a note in the front from the author himself.  “H.F.Sheppard” is my father and Mr. Chipperfield wrote, “For the old times on the 8 – 16 that was, from the author, Joseph E.Chipperfield.”
So, present day commuters, talk to your fellow sufferers. You never know who they are, or what they might become !
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