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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Mrs May and her “Nation” . . .

Mrs May was seen shouting (not far off screaming) at Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons today that we are going to leave the European Union because that is what the nation (her word) wishes.  The “nation” consists of somewhere between 64 million and 65 million souls, depending on where you go for your information.

Of these at the time of the EU Referendum 46,500,001 of us were on the Electoral Register and eligible to take part. 17,410,742 of us thought we should leave. 16,141,241 thought we should remain, and 12,948,018 did not take part. It is these leave voters which Mrs May has today, and on several previous occasions referred to as “the Nation”.

And on this specious argument she and her “Government” have embroiled us in a mess worse than any I have seen in my lifetime.

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Progress . . .

Fairness demands that I say that Stockton Borough Council have produced the Council Tax refund, but I won’t totally knuckle under because it took them more than a month to achieve it, and a week at least to reply to emails. My guess is that they are running in an understaffed situation and that this is not going to improve any time soon. And, Revenue Scotland have produced our Additional Dwelling Tax refund, but our house insurance refund is still “out there” somewhere.

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Well, two months and more since my last post we are settling in.  We slept here as “residents” on the night of 22nd August, the furniture arrived on 23rd and by lunchtime we were “in” surrounded by enormous cardboard boxes.  The boxes, flattened, piled up in the garage until by chance we heard of someone who was also moving house and who came and gratefully removed our pile for her little problem. Our old washing machine is plumbed in and wobbles the floor about as it did in its previous home. The tumble dryer did its stuff out in the garage, but has been superseded by an all singin’, all dancin’ condenser dryer in the kitchen, and we have a slim-line dishwasher plumbed in and hopefully tomorrow, wired in to do the dishes. We have found a cleaning lady, and we are about to get a fan heater and extractor fan fitted to the shower room.

Bit by bit we are finding our way around Dumfries to the various trading estates and have found a nice garden centre there.  We are reasonably familiar with Castle Douglas and can find our way to and around Dalbeattie.  Loch Arthur Farm Shop we think is very good as is the cafe, and we have become “Friends” of the community there.

On the down side, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council still have not paid out our Council Tax refund, the insurers have not sent our premium refund, and, unsurprisingly, Revenue Scotland have not repaid our Additional Dwelling tax. Such outfits are quick to demand payment with awful punishments if you are slow or fail to pay, but when the boot goes on to the other foot it is a very different story.

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