Storm Ali . . . the aftermath

The fence repairers arrive.
The fence repairers.

Storm Ali having done its worst the fence repairers let us know that they were coming the following day with our new fence. They arrived before time and set to work straight away.

New fence panels, and debris of old fence.
New fence panels, and debris of old fence.
The old fence nearly gone. One panel left behind the summer house.
The new fence in place.
The new fence.
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Storm Ali . . .

Storm Ali starts work on installing a new fence.

Some time ago, knowing that the centre post of this section of fence was rotted through at the base, we got an estimate for the replacement of the whole section.  Today, storm “Ali” came along and began the work of removing the old fence. Did a rather untidy job though.  He was redeemed by the fencing firm who announced that they intedned to come on Thursday morning and start work on the replacement.

Storm Ali also removes ridge tiles.

Unfortunately for our neighbour, storm “Ali” also shifted some ridge tiles off our neighbour’s bungalow. I have photographed these so that he can show them to his insurance company if he needs to.

NB that the above photos were taken through windows both of which were covered with a layer of dried salt spray, which doesn’t improve the quality.

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Plant Fair . . .

Sunday saw the autumn plant fair in the harbour square. The weather was worsening at the time when we went, but we escaped a wetting. Plenty of plants on sale, but not very colourful photo wise as at this time of the year they are dying back but are excellent for putting in now ready for next spring.

Kirkcudbright Plant fair, 16 Sep 2018
Kirkcudbright Plant Fair, 16 Sep 2018.
Kirkcudbright Plant fair, 16 Sep 2018
Kirkcudbright Plant fair, 16 Sep 2018
Kirkcudbright Plant fair, 16 Sep 2018
Kirkcudbright Plant fair, 16 Sep 2018
Kirkcudbright Plant fair, 16 Sep 2018
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How high is a Basecamp ?

Today we went off to explore the Laggan Outdoor Centre recently (to us anyway) as a reward for having our feet refitted at the podiatrist’s.  The entry is on the A75, but once in there is quite a long winding drive up the hill to find the cafe somewhat puzzingly called the Basecamp. We had been warned hat we might find the final stage on foot too much for us. But you only live once, so on we went. The car park is high up and gives good views of Wigtown Bay and the Isle of Man. But there was indeed as promised, a steep climb up a horseshoe path to the summit. To oldies like us the climb looked forbidding, but the descent looked even more problematic as old legs aren’t very good at braking.

Nevertheless, we attempted the ascent and, without sherpas, succeeded. We had a simple lunch and sat and admired the views – fortunately it was a sunny day as if it had been otherwise we should have had to attempt the climb again on another day.

Wigtown Bay
The Isle of Man lurks behind a piece of equipment.

A compromise exposurewise to give some idea of the cafe interior without losing the view.

We did accomplish the descent without any accidents and returned home undamaged.

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Graceful, but bent and toothless . . .

Bent valve stems after cambelt failure.
Bent valve stems after cambelt failure.
Belt, good teeth and stripped teeth.

Back in 2005 we were making our annual pilgrimage to the Lake Artists’ exhibition at Grasmere Village Hall. A short distance past the King’s Head Inn at Thirlspot the car quietly died and by great good luck it had a enough momentum to take it along nicely and enable me to turn off into a lay-by and get parked. After some adventures with non existent phone signals I managed to get assistance at the Inn and got picked up from there by a man with a car transporter who took me back up to the lay-by where the poor old car was winched aboard and we all set off back to Stockton-on-Tees whence we came. We dumped the car at the FIAT garage, Cleveland Body and Paint, and got taken home by the driver after which he set off back to Cumbria.

The cause of the trouble was that the camshaft drive belt had somehow got stripped of many teeth – see the lower photo above – with subsequent damage to the valves – top photo. It all got repaired – and cost us a pretty penny – but the car subsequently took us a good many miles both in UK and on the Continent.

The mileage at the time of the failure was way below that at which the belt should have needed changing and we tried to get some compensation from FIAT, but needless to say, failed.

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Thirteen Years Ago . . .

Thirteen years ago, 23 February 2005, a new adventure begins. Experiments with a Panasonic DMC FZ3, a camera I still have but seldom use these days.

Here is what Steves Digicams said, “

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 is an affordable 3.1-megapixel digital camera with a high- quality Leica 12x optical zoom. The high precision Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 12x zoom is equivalent to a 35 – 420mm zoom on a 35mm camera and has a constant F2.8 brightness throughout the entire zoom range. Panasonic’s advanced MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) enhances the camera’s telephoto zoom capabilities, helping to deliver sharp, vivid images even when taking handheld telephoto shots or shooting in low light. This feature uses motion sensors, which detects even slight hand movement and integrally links the lens control to the motion of the camera to reduce jitter.

And if you want the full works, but strangely, no mention of the number of megapixels, here is the Digital Photography review

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Will he crack it ?

Well, here we go. Project Gutenberg has arrived on WordPress.


If all goes well, you might see two pictures below. Hang on !

The photo straight out of the phone.
The same photo modified with the plugin AltaLux in IrfanView

There, that wasn’t so bad was it. Didn’t hurt a bit.


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GDPR . . .

GDPR – German Democratic Peoples’ Republic ?

Er. No.

General Data Protection Regulation. An EU Regulation which came into force on 25 May 2018. So, information about us online is safe now ? Allegedly yes.

Who does the GDPR affect?
The GDPR not only applies to organisations located within the EU but it will also apply to organisations located outside of the EU if they offer goods or services to, or monitor the behaviour of, EU data subjects.

Earlier in the year we were bombarded with snail mail and email from businesses seeking to assure us that they were complying with this new regulation and our personal details would be safe with them.

What constitutes personal data?
The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’ meaning any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier. This definition provides for a wide range of personal identifiers to constitute personal data, including name, identification number, location data or online identifier, reflecting changes in technology and the way organisations collect information about people.

This sounds good, but in at least one letter received here there was the tell tale paragraph which said something like, ” We will never divulge any information about you that we hold except . . . ”  The list of exceptions was long, I think I counted about seventeen sub paragraphs, but the real sting came when you read each of those. There might be an organisation to which information must be revealable but then those organisations might have other organisations to which they also must reveal information if asked. And those organisations included various Government agencies, so I came to the conclusion that in effect our private information  is up for grabs. And you only need one or two organisations like Cambridge Analytica  to harvest where they, morally speaking, shouldn’t and GDPR becomes a dead letter.

We ourselves moved house a year ago. Our “change of address” endeavours have in the main been successful. The big failure has been the inability to, or lack of interest in, the cancelling the old address shown by various firms*, so that we keep getting two copies of catalogues. We have maintained a Royal Mail redirection service since we moved (originally set up for six months, we had to extend it to a year) but this runs out on 20th August, but I suspect the people now living in our old house will get unwanted mail for some time yet.

Notably : and

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The Rain it Raineth . . .

“When there are grey skies,
I don’t mind the grey skies . . . “

Until recently the weather forecast was a steadily increasing number of days without rain, the last figure I remember was 50 days, and the country coloured various shades of yellows and orange denoting high temperatures. Over the last week this weather system has broken down and we are getting rain at regular intervals, the fields are changing from yellow and brown through a rather dirty looking greyish brownish green to something a bit more like grass. Hopefully the rainfall will be greater quantity wise over the Galloway hills and the reservoirs will be starting to be replenished.

In our garden the waiting weeds have scented the change and are springing up in great style. If only they were edible we could have fresh greens every day.

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Fake News, or, Two Sides of the Same Question . . .

We need to dump some cardboard at our local waste recycling centre – but – we need to be quick because on the Council website there is this . . .




Customer Notice

Threatened suspension of Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

At this time Renewi UK Services Limited has threatened to suspend services from 3rd August 2018. Renewi operate 11 Household Waste Recycling Centres in Dumfries and Galloway:

Annandale and Eskdale – Beattock HWRC, Lockerbie HWRC and Annan HWRC
Nithsdale – Lochar Moss HWRC, Lincluden HWRC, Gatelawbridge HWRC and Sanquhar HWRC
Stewartry – Castle Douglas HWRC and Dalbeattie HWRC
Wigtown area – Whithorn HWRC and Galdenoch HWRC.

It is not clear whether this threat by Renewi UK Services Limited to suspend services will materialise. The Council will advise on its contingency arrangements in the coming weeks through our Social media, our website and the local press – should it be apparent that the threat will be carried out.

This does not affect Newton Stewart HWRC or Stranraer HWRC as these two sites are directly operated by the Council.

Notice that this is a “threat” by the company, hereinafter called “Renewi”, that currently holds the recycling contract.

But, we now go to the company’s website to see if we can glean anymore information . . .

Renewi To Exit From Its Dumfries And Galloway Operating Contract
Posted on 9 March 2018 by Darrel Moore

Renewi plc, the international waste-to-product business, today announces that it is in discussions with Dumfries and Galloway (“D&G”) Council and other stakeholders to initiate the termination of its loss-making PFI operating contract.

The D&G PFI project is unable to address the needs of Zero Waste Scotland (“ZWS”) legislation that sets demanding new requirements regarding landfill diversion and recycling from 2021.

Renewi has been working with D&G Council and other stakeholders for a number of years to determine how this 15-year-old PFI waste project and the related operating contract could be amended to meet the requirements of ZWS. However, despite these discussions, a workable solution compliant with ZWS has not been found.

“Terminating the operating contract is not a decision we have taken lightly and we will work with D&G Council, our employees and our other stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition.”

Accordingly, Renewi has initiated a termination of the operating contract, which is held between Renewi UK Services Ltd and Shanks Dumfries & Galloway Limited. It will enable D&G Council and other stakeholders to explore new ways to comply with the obligations of ZWS. The proposed termination of the operating contract is expected to become effective in the next financial year.

The remainder of Renewi’s Municipal Division is unaffected by this termination. As previously announced, the Division is performing largely in line with revised expectations for the year, delivering operational progress against its recovery plans.

Commenting on this decision, James Priestley, managing director of Renewi’s Municipal Division said: “Regrettably, the D&G PFI project and Renewi’s operating contract do not currently meet the objectives of the new Zero Waste Scotland legislation.

“Terminating the operating contract is not a decision we have taken lightly and we will work with D&G Council, our employees and our other stakeholders to ensure a seamless transition.

“Whilst our termination discussions are taking place, we will continue to ensure a high-quality and efficient service to the Council and the residents of Dumfries and Galloway. This decisive action is in line with our strategy to actively manage our portfolio of UK assets to reduce future risk.” *

So, it turns out that this has been known about since the 9th March 2018 and that the discussions have been going on for 15 years !

It would seem that the desirable aim of recycling everything into something useful is either unachievable, or only achievable at some cost which the Council is unwilling or unable to pay.  Given that the Government has been pursuing a relentless policy of cutting back on the central Government grant paid to Councils alongside the collected Council tax I suspect the Council simply has not got the money at its disposal to get anywhere near this Zero Waste Scotland target.

And they all lived happily ever after . . . 1st August 2018

We read today on Facebook that the waste collection centres in Dumfries and Galloway plus the household collections (no mention of those hitherto so far as I am aware !) are to continue “as normal”.

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